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TECH NEWS

Is this mini underground garage the best way to keep your bike safe at home? Plus the aero handlebar that dodges UCI rules, and more tech news from Specialized, Chrome, Restrap + more

Check out Trek’s very cool knitted shoes, loads of new bags, and headphones designed especially for “safe listening” while you exercise

We’ve got loads of new tech to tell you about this week, including shoes from Specialized and Trek, bags from Chrome, and a handlebar that lets you get super-aero while staying within the rules, but we’re starting with a space-saving design intended to keep your bike secure and out of the way.

Going underground! Is a mini-garage beneath your front garden the solution to home bike storage?

The week's biggest story on road.cc – by a country mile – was about the Irish cyclist threatened with a €13 million fine or two years in prison after installing a small shed to store bikes – and her mother’s wheelchair – in her front garden; is the answer for many of us to store bikes underground instead?

> Cyclist threatened with €13 million fine and two years in prison over bike shed, forcing her to give up cycling 

2024 Outbox - 1 (1)

road.cc reader Harry Jarman is currently developing Outbox, which is designed to offer secure underground storage for bikes, including e-bikes, in front of your home.

“Technically any 'structure' in front of your house (the front elevation of the property) requires planning permission,” says Harry. “Some councils have been known to turn a blind eye, but ultimately, can decide to ask you to remove the structure without planning authority. Councils are particular about conservation areas and listed buildings, where a cycle shed would have a detrimental visual impact.

“Outbox stores your cycles, e-bikes or mobility scooter underground, in an easily accessible secure container. This has minimal visual impact and little effect on the character of a residential neighbourhood. Research has suggested that councils may be more amenable to this solution.”

2024 Outbox - 2

Of course, you’ll need to have enough space available for installation, but could many of us keep our bikes safe and out of sight in this way? And could it ultimately encourage more people to own and use bikes?

“Outbox breaks down barriers to cycle ownership, providing secure, convenient and exclusive storage, where other solutions aren’t practical,” says Harry. “Cyclists want to know that their precious investments are safe and no one else can touch them.”

If you own e-bikes, Outbox would keep lithium batteries out of your home too.

> Are e-bike batteries safe? What’s the difference between a safe battery and a fire risk? 

Security is going to be vitally important, of course.

“We are working on multi-faceted security features to deter the most ambitious thieves,” says Harry. “If they manage to get the lid open, they still can’t take the bikes. We are also looking into digital access and alarms.”

2024 Outbox - 1

As mentioned, the Outbox design is currently a work in progress.

“I lived in several homes in London and commuted on cycles for over 20 years,” he says. “I had the idea years ago, but have only focused on it in the last two years, encouraged by the adoption of e-bikes. A prototype will be manufactured shortly, allowing testing and iteration. Outbox will be looking for funding to take the cycle garage to market. I hope to launch as soon as I can, as I have had a number of enquiries from here and abroad.

“I don’t like to commit to pricing but estimate £6-7k plus installation, which will depend on numerous variables, so has to be on a case-by-case basis.”

That’s clearly a lot of money, but so is the need to replace stolen bikes, and Harry argues that Outbox could potentially add value to your property and reduce insurance premiums.

We will, of course, keep you up to date as the Outbox project develops. What do you reckon, Dragons, does the idea have legs?

Find out more here 

Check out Trek’s cool new kicks

Trek has updated its road shoe range with new RSL and Velocis models that feature what it calls ‘METNET relief zones’ designed to stretch with your foot to avoid discomfort.

METNET? We'll come back to that in a sec.

2024 Trek RSL Knit shoes - 1

The pick of the bunch has to be the RSL Knit. It certainly looks the coolest. The knitted upper is made from polyester yarn and is designed to be “exceptionally breathable, providing better temperature management and comfort than cycling shoes with a traditional upper”, according to Trek.

You get a 100% carbon-fibre outsole that Trek rates 14 out of 14 for stiffness, and closure is handled by two BOA Li2 dials.

Trek says, “The RSL Knit provides a snug, sock-like fit that conforms to your foot, providing a high level of comfort yet maintaining the highest level of power transfer thanks to the METNET exoskeleton, which consists of straps anchored to the outsole of the shoe.

2024 Trek RSL Knit Metnet - 1

“Through a responsive design that allows the shoe to stretch and compress around the forefoot, METNET helps to bring relief to hot foot, numbness, and tingling. When you feel better, you perform better.

“METNET provides stretch in areas of the shoe that most commonly cause foot-related discomfort or pain, specifically around the first and fifth metatarsal heads and the fifth metatarsal tuberosity.”

The Trek RSL Knit shoes are the top-of-the-range option, coming in at a whopping £399.99.

2024 Trek RSL Road shoes - 1

The RSL Road shoes are a little less expensive at £349.99. These use a 100% carbon fibre plate too, and the same two BOA Li2 dials, but with a perforated polyurethane upper. Trek says that the stretch is created by laminating this with a stretchy backer.

2024 Trek Metnet - 1

“The RSL Knit and Trek RSL Road feature the updated Trek Pro Last, which has been redesigned using 3D foot scan data to better match the average riders' foot shape.,” Trek says.

2024 Trek Velocis shoes - 1 (1)

The Trek Velocis also has a polyurethane upper and dual BOA Li2 dials, and uses a similar two-layer system for the stretchy zones. Trek gives the carbon composite plate a 10 out of 14 stiffness rating. These are priced at £229.99.

Find out more here

Specialized updates Torch 2.0 and 3.0 shoes 

Speaking of shoes, Specialized has introduced all-new Torch 2.0 (pictured below) and 3.0 shoes that sit just below its S-Works model and feature various trickledown features. The Torch 3.0 is the more premium option of the two, featuring a twin Li2 BOA dial retention system complete with a micro-adjust in both directions. 

2024 Specialized Torch 2.0 shoes - 1

There’s a seam-free upper with mesh and laser-cut perforations for improved ventilation. Like the S-Works Torch, there’s an asymmetric cutout around the heel cup, but this is not visible and sits beneath the exterior of the rear portion of the shoe.

The sole comprises unidirectional carbon fibre with rubberised grips for traction. It’s available in four colour options, including purple, black or white. Pricing is £210 / $250 / €250.

The Torch 2.0 utilise a sole that foregoes unidirectional fibres for a woven unit. The upper comprises a single-piece construction complete with laser perforations but lacks the mesh inserts of the 3.0. Retention comes in the form of a single Li2 BOA dial and Velcro strap. Pricing is pegged at £165 / $180 / €200.

Looking at the total weights, the Torch 3.0 comes in at 288g per shoe and the Torch 2.0 268g per shoe (273g per shoe on our scale) in size 42. Both the Torch 3.0 and Torch 2.0 are compatible with three-bolt cleats only.

Find out more here

Specialized redesigns Propero helmet

Specialized has been busy redesigning its Propero helmet too, a lid that has always occupied the middle ground within the brand’s lineup.

2024 Specialized Propero 4 helmet - 1

Visually, the Propero 4 combines the best parts of the Evade 3 and Prevail 3 helmets without the S-Works frills. As a result, it offers better ventilation than the Evade, with clever internal channelling that creates turbulence for better cooling. Specialized says the Propero 4 is four watts more efficient than the current Prevail helmet at 45km/h (28mph). 

> Read our review of the Specialized S-Works Evade 3 helmet 

It comes with all the safety bells and whistles you’d expect from a modern lid, such as Mips, in this instance Mips C-Solution. It also gets the same strapping material and retention dial as the S-Works Evade, including occipital adjustment for a more precise, tailored fit.

> All you need to know about MIPS 

It’s available in four colours, including white, and three sizes (small, medium and large). A medium Propero 4 weighs 290g (weights will differ from country to country, with US-spec helmets 20g heavier than European equivalents). 

The Propero 4 helmet retails for £165 / $200 / €190.

Find out more here 

Sidestep UCI rules with the Ashaa RR road handlebar

Italy’s Toot Engineering is now offering a carbon-fibre version of its Ashaa RR handlebar that’s intended to offer you an ultra-aero position while sticking to UCI rules.

2024 Toot Engineering Ashaa RR Carbon - 1 (4)

There has been a game of chess going on over the past few years between racers looking for aero gains and UCI rule-makers tightening up race regulations. We had the banning of the ‘puppy paws’ position (resting forearms on the tops of handlebars) in 2021 and more recently a clamping down on the trend to turn levers inwards to reduce frontal area.

Toot Engineering’s answer is the Ashaa RR handlebar. This video gives you the basics…

It started as a carbon track handlebar, but there are now road versions too, compatible with internal cable routing. A standard Ashaa RR in 3D-printed 316L steel is €1,390 (£1,189) with a customised version priced at €1,990 (£1,700). A 3D-printed titanium model is €1,990 (£1,700) too.

2024 Toot Engineering Ashaa RR Carbon - 1 (2)

What’s new is Toot Engineering’s version of the Ashaa RR in 3K twill carbon fibre with a claimed weight of 330g. The price of this one is €429 (£367).

Find out more here 

You want bags? Chrome has plenty of new ones

Fans of carrying stuff will be pleased to hear that Chrome Industries has unveiled a whole bunch of new bags, including the Holman on-bike collection that is designed “for urban cyclists, bike-packers and off-road riders who need to keep their kit close and secure both on and off their bike”.

2023 Chrome Holman Pannier

“All bags in the new collection are built with durability in mind, consciously constructed with hardwearing, water-resistant outer shells made from 600 denier Bluesign-approved recycled poly and 150 denier recycled liners,” says Chrome.

The Holman Pannier (£90) features a 20-litre main compartment with an expandable rolltop entry and a universal hook/loop mounting system designed to fit most rack and frame sizes. You also get an exterior zip pocket and a removable webbing shoulder strap.

The Holman range also includes a three-litre Handlebar Bag (£45), a Toptube Bag (£35), and frame bags in three-litre (£50) and four-litre (£60) editions.

Chrome has also added a new Ruckas Messenger Bag, adding to a lineup that includes the backpack we reviewed on road.cc last year.  

2024 Chrome Ruckas Messenger Bag

“With a 9-litre carry capacity, this slimline piece can be worn on shoulder or crossbody, with a detachable stabiliser strap to keep the bag secure and prevent it from shifting on your back when you are on the move,” says Chrome.

“A simple two snap closure system keeps the roomy main pocket secure, whilst inside you’ll find a stretch mesh pocket for stowing your water bottle.”

2024 Chrome Ruckas Messenger Bag - 2

The Ruckas Messenger is PFC-free and has a weather-resistant recycled poly outer shell and recycled poly liners. It’s priced at £58.

Find out more here 

Oladance introduces OWS Sports open-ear headphones for “safe listening”

We were mightily impressed by the Oladance Open Ear Headphones we reviewed last year, and now the brand has announced a new OWS Sports model that’s already out there being trialled by our man Josh Price (a review will follow soon).

Oladance OWS Sports headphone

Although these are designed so you can hear what’s going on around you, they aren’t bone-conduction headphones like the ones we’ve reviewed from Shokz, for example. Instead, you get a tiny speaker that sits on top of your ear.

Oladance says, “OWS technology protects the user's hearing and supports ear health by acting as an extension of the human ear to process sounds safely.

2023 Oladance OWS Sports headphone - buttons 1.jpg

“Boasting an IPX8 waterproof rating, wind noise reduction, home theatre-quality sound, and a powerful 15-hour battery life (with two-hour quick charge technology), the new OWS Sports is able to withstand the elements while ensuring users’ rhythm remains undisturbed,” says Oladance.

IPX8 means the headphones can be immersed in a metre of water without ill effects, so even the British weather shouldn’t be a problem.

2023 Oladance OWS Sports headphone - case 3.jpg

“The open-ear design with ergonomically engineered soft titanium wire neck strap keeps the earphones securely in place,” says Oladance. “Additionally, the integrated physical control button allows users to adjust sound freely with options for on/off, volume up and down, and more.”

You can buy Oladance OWS Sports open-ear headphones for $179.99 (around £143) from Oladance and Amazon.

Find out more here

Restrap offers repair kit made from waste materials

Restrap Repair Pack

Restrap has introduced Repair Pack, a little pouch crafted from repurposed waste materials that's filled with different-sized patches you can use to repair your gear. The black iron-on repair patches can be applied to bikepacking bags to extend the lifespan of your well-used kit. The patches are waterproof when applied, and the wallet they come in is made from repurposed waste fabric from Restrap's cutting process, further enhancing the eco-friendly ethos of the product.

The Repair Packs are available exclusively through Restrap's website and cost £3.99 a pop.

Find out more here

Daysaver collaborates with consumers for its new multitools

Daysaver Essential8

Daysaver, the Swiss brand known for its high-end multitools, has launched the latest iteration of its Essential8 and Coworking5 models, but this time they are based on extensive collaboration with customers.

The Essential8 (above) now boasts a plasma-coated handle that's designed for enhanced wear and oxidation resistance, alongside epoxy-coated magnets intended to resist corrosion. The bits lineup has also been altered to include an optional H2/JIS#2 bit which is compatible with both Philips and Pozidriv, plus screws. 

Daysaver Coworking5

The Coworking5, on the other hand, features a multitool extension with an improved chain breaker, now utilizing Torx 25 for increased torque transmission, according to Daysaver. You can slot the two tools (the Coworking5 and Essential8) together neatly, as well. 

The Essential8 costs $49.95 (£39) and the Coworking5 sets you back $33.95 (£27). 

Find out more here

Carbs Fuel is “the best value gel in the world”

Carbs Fuel is a new company founded by Colorado-based cyclist Gabe Multer and his partner Aaron Gouw. Gabe says his goal with Carbs Fuel is to provide a high-quality, affordable fuel source that enables cyclists to ride longer and avoid the dreaded hunger bonk. To do this, the company has created a product that kicks ass in terms of design, ingredients and pricing. In fact, the brand bills Carbs Fuel as “the best value gel in the world”.

2024 Carbs Fuel gel - 1

The gels use seven ingredients and include no preservatives, gelling agents or artificial flavours – each gel contains 2:1 glucose-to-fructose carbohydrates. While there’s no specific flavour, the Carbs Fuel gels have a faint citrus taste from the sucrose, acidity regulators and sodium ingredients.

As for real-world results, well, our man Aaron has been using the Carbs Fuel gels in some elite-level 100km Zwift races and swears by the results, saying the 100g/hr represents a sweet spot in terms of keeping the fuel reserves topped up and cramp at bay. Of course, you can attempt more, even as much as 120-150g/hr, but this needs to be trained.

The design is bold and effective, and the retro-style typography and blue-type-on-white packaging provide a refreshing take on the overdesigned packaging we currently see dominating the space.

The kicker here is the pricing. At $2 (£1.60) per gel or $36 (£29) for a box of 18, Carbs Fuel has a lot going for it and will appeal to the performance enthusiast and price-conscious cyclist alike. Carbs Fuel is only available in the USA, but the company says plans to expand into Europe and the rest of the world are underway.

Find out more here

In case you missed it earlier in the week…

Add new comment

34 comments

Avatar
Paul J | 4 months ago
0 likes

"they aren’t bone-conduction headphones like ... Shokz, for example. Instead, you get a tiny speaker that sits on top of your ear."

Tiny speaker near your ear is also Shokz. The bone conduction stuff is, AFAICT, largely waffle. Close off your ear hole with a Shokz and the sound quality is massively reduced.

Avatar
Roger N | 5 months ago
1 like

It's good to see at least one solution for storing e-bikes/batteries external to the living quarters.  I would imagine there are many people put off from buying an e-bike because there is no outside area to store/charge them.  Although this particular concept is in the early stages and the costs do seem high, it would be good to see more innovations in this space, with perhaps less expensive external storage/charging systems for e-bikes and batteries.

Avatar
quiff replied to Roger N | 4 months ago
1 like

Roger N wrote:

it would be good to see more innovations in this space, with perhaps less expensive external storage/charging systems for e-bikes and batteries.

Asgard e-bike storage

Avatar
Hirsute replied to quiff | 4 months ago
2 likes

Well, I'm disappointed. Thought that was going to be a link to Heimdall.

Avatar
andystow | 5 months ago
7 likes

Cycle storage suggestion: get three big wheely bins and plastic weld them together, then cut out the inner walls so it's one compartment.

Just make sure nobody's looking when you move your bike in and out of the assembly.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to andystow | 5 months ago
2 likes

And don't forget when bin day is.  Ordinarily they look for any excuse NOT to take your rubbish but sod's law...

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to andystow | 5 months ago
1 like

andystow wrote:

Cycle storage suggestion: get three big wheely bins and plastic weld them together, then cut out the inner walls so it's one compartment.

Just make sure nobody's looking when you move your bike in and out of the assembly.

Urban/suburban camouflage. Just make sure the waste collectors don't empty them by mistake.

Avatar
Tom_77 replied to andystow | 5 months ago
1 like

There seems to be very little logic in what you can and can't put in your front garden. One of my neighbours has a skip in their front garden more or less permanently (which doesn't bother me - the orange Dacia Duster my other neighbour has looks worse).

Seems like you could put a massive wheelie bin in your front garden and store bikes in it, and that would be OK. But a similarly sized shed would be against the rules.

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to Tom_77 | 5 months ago
1 like

convenient way for the thieves to remove all your bikes to somewhere quiet where they can work on the locks

Avatar
cyclisto | 5 months ago
2 likes

This underground solution is kind of funny. It is a £7000 vs £500 solution that seems less illegal than the £500 solution, yet you have the danger of converting your bicycle to a U-boat. And all this travesty happens in a country which spends billions trying to achieve reduced CO2 emissions, while not letting people have a box to put their bicycles.

Avatar
JEMVisser | 5 months ago
0 likes

The solution underground is very clever! It would be even more lerfect if it looked exactly like the surroundings around it, so it blends in completly. No councyl is gonna say no to that, because then it looks almost exactly the same as before.

It does however already look like it is pretty hard to see!

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to JEMVisser | 5 months ago
0 likes

JEMVisser wrote:

The solution underground is very clever! It would be even more lerfect if it looked exactly like the surroundings around it, so it blends in completly. No councyl is gonna say no to that, because then it looks almost exactly the same as before. It does however already look like it is pretty hard to see!

the problem with making these things blend in is that it is usually achieved by an infill space on the cover filled with block paving (or tarmac) which looks great, but makes the cover significantly heavier and difficult to open.

Avatar
Von Sparkenhoffen | 5 months ago
2 likes

Gels are the devil's work, I don't care who makes them and how good they're supposed to be....they're not good, they're just toxic junk!

Avatar
jaymack | 5 months ago
0 likes

The best value gels are those you make yourself. The interweb is awash with ideas, I've tried a couple such as these,  https://triathlonbudgeting.com/four-easy-natural-and-cheap-energy-gel-di...

Avatar
marmotte27 | 5 months ago
2 likes

Outbox thing is too expensive for too little space, just two bikes. Not to speak of problems you'll have with humidity and such like.

Avatar
Terry Hutt replied to marmotte27 | 5 months ago
3 likes

I hope Outbox is waterproof. You don't want to head out for a ride only to find your bike has been sitting in 6" of water all week. What if the power is out? Is there a hand-crank option? So many questions.

It does have a certain Bond-like feel to it though.

Avatar
open_roads replied to Terry Hutt | 5 months ago
0 likes

If they can address those points it looks great - maybe a plastic / lightweight outer "tank" would do the trick - like a pre-formed pond type thing.

 

Avatar
Hirsute replied to open_roads | 5 months ago
2 likes

What do you do when it is heavy rain all the way back home?

How much water will be in the outbox when you lift the lid and spend time getting the in and closed and how will it get out ? Plus other bikes will now get wet.

At least with a shed, you can wipe your bike down once you have got back. Not sure I'd want to leave it overnight sealed up.

Avatar
jarpots replied to Terry Hutt | 5 months ago
0 likes

All your concerns are being considered along with the common sense that you dont install in a flood prone area and make sure it has adequate drainage. The product is designed to be rain proof, but little can be done about 3 foot of flooding.

Avatar
brooksby replied to Terry Hutt | 4 months ago
1 like

Terry Hutt wrote:

I hope Outbox is waterproof. You don't want to head out for a ride only to find your bike has been sitting in 6" of water all week. What if the power is out? Is there a hand-crank option? So many questions.

It does have a certain Bond-like feel to it though.

When your bikes are being repaired, you can use it to store your sharks with frickin' laser beams. 

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 4 months ago
0 likes

I think a remote control allowing you to pop this up to reveal something truly scary (other than Rendel's suggestion of my mortal remains) has mileage.  Great for the missionaries, canvassing politicians, local charitable groups and other annoyances!

Avatar
dubwise | 5 months ago
0 likes

Re the Trek shoes.

Who are these shoes aimed at, as the pricing rules the vast majority of folk out. Do these companies not realise that people simply don't have the money to burn?

Avatar
mark1a replied to dubwise | 5 months ago
2 likes

dubwise wrote:

Re the Trek shoes. Who are these shoes aimed at, as the pricing rules the vast majority of folk out. Do these companies not realise that people simply don't have the money to burn?

There are people that do have the money to burn. From what I've seen, the current slump in the cycling market hasn't really affected the high-end sales. If you look at the heavily discounted stuff on sale, it's at the lower end, where the post-pandemic overstock is. So I reckon these shoes would be aimed at the individual in the Trek retail store, who after choosing the colour and spec of their Project One Madone SLR, will pick up a pair on the way out while they wait for their bike to be made. 

Avatar
Von Sparkenhoffen replied to mark1a | 5 months ago
0 likes

I'd hardly say Sidi shoes are at the 'low end' of stuff in the sale! You obviously never saw the Saddleback sale! 🤣

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to dubwise | 5 months ago
1 like

dubwise wrote:

Re the Trek shoes. Who are these shoes aimed at, as the pricing rules the vast majority of folk out. Do these companies not realise that people simply don't have the money to burn?

Clearly some people do have the money to buy these things and if they want to, good luck to 'em. I wouldn't personally, even if I thought I could smuggle them through the household accounts (no chance!), but nobody's forcing the rest of us to buy them and it's not as if they're the only available option on the market. Hopefully such luxury items could even benefit those of us without money to burn as the profit made on them could help companies to keep the prices of their more affordable items down.

Avatar
Global Nomad replied to dubwise | 5 months ago
1 like

your comment applies to all aspects of (consumer) lifestyle...from clothes to cars to technology and food....in many cases they are aspirational to encourage you to buy the lower priced models - this has been the way for decades

Avatar
Miller | 5 months ago
0 likes

Speaking of bags, how many litres does one need to carry a laptop plus change of clothes and a pair of shoes?

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Hirsute replied to Miller | 5 months ago
0 likes

How big is your laptop? What size shoes ? How many layers of clothes ?

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Miller replied to Hirsute | 5 months ago
0 likes

Normal sized. Dunno, shirt and trousers sort of thing. Not a Shetland jumper.

Avatar
marmotte27 replied to Miller | 5 months ago
1 like

Should fit into a bag about the size of an Ortlieb Backroller I'd say.

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