I’ve been going back to basics with my riding recently. While it’s always possible to be fitter, I do plenty of miles over the week riding to work on a road bike keeping me in good shape, it's my technique that I've been focusing on recently.
Riding skills and technique is an area I’ve been keen to work on during the winter months, as it’s a great time to try stuff out without the pressure of racing on the mind. I’m talking about all the aspects that contribute towards getting from the top of the trail to the bottom as quickly, smoothly and in as much control as possible.
So corner speed, carrying better pace over roots, picking smarter lines, tackling rock gardens with more gusto and generally pushing myself a little harder on the descents has been my focus recently. This has prompted a few upgrades and change of kit to better help me improve, giving me more control and increasing my confidence.
Principally, flat pedals in place of my favoured clipless items, a wider handlebar and shorter stem were fitted to my bike as I push myself harder. Looking around at the options, NukeProof offered just what I was looking for. A big name back in the day, they relaunched a few years ago with a bold new look, and have been well received. So a quick phone call to Hotlines and the following parts turned up for testing. I’ll be reviewing the bars and stem as part of a future grouptest, so watch out for that.
NukeProof Neutron flat pedals £54.99
One of the first things I’ve done is to swap my faithful clipless pedals for a set of flats. They give me the freedom to push myself faster through corners, over jumps and tackle roots and rocks with more gusto. Having the freedom of being able to bail from the bike if it goes tits up seemed like a smart move.
But being an SPD user, I didn’t have any flat pedals kicking around. So a quick call to Hotlines and a set of the Nukeproof flatties turned up. And good they look, with a nice low profile design, generous platform area and plentiful pins.
The Neutron pedals here are CNC-machined with most of the pedal body removed to get the weigh down (438g a pair). Spinning on DU bushings and a pair of sealed cartridge bearings provides a smooth spin, with a lip seal keeping crud out.
Nukeproof Warhead 760mm riser bar (£44.99) and 50mm Warhead stem (£49.99)
I’ve always liked wider bars and shorter stems, but it seems I wasn’t going wide and short enough. These are properly wide!
A bit of a chat with Dirt’s Steve Jones had me on the blower to get some whopping great 750mm wide handlebars and diddy 50mm stem in for reviewing. And what a transformation; control feels so much better with the increased leverage making it easier to sling the bike around and muscle it faster through corners. Getting them through some tightly packed tree-lined trails can raise objections however, but generally I’m getting on well with them.
The Warhead handlebar is made from 7075 aluminium with a tidy shot-peened finish. Bar diameter at the clamp is 31.8mm and width is 750mm – cut bars do allow the easy trimming if they’re a bit rangy for you. Weight out of the box is 298g.
The stem meanwhile uses 6061 aluminium cold forged and then CNC-machined to achieve its look, which is about as stubby as I've ever seen a stem. In fact there's barely any 'stem' to talk of. It’s available in 50mm (pictured), 60mm and 70mm lengths, and uses a four-bolt faceplate to clamp the stem in place, and off-set steerer clamp bolts. Weight for the 50mm stem is 170g.
Give me a couple of weeks and I'll bring you some reviews on these parts.
Has anyone else been experimenting with flat pedals and different bar and stem setups?