Madison Cycles are one of the bigger importers and distributors of bike kit in the UK, and they spent last week showing off their considerable range of wares to the trade. We were there too and had a bit of a poke and a prod and some of the new stuff coming to a bike shop near you soon…
Continental’s new Vapor tyre is intended for enduros, 24 hour races and general XC longness. The tread uses what Conti’s calling “Gravity Arc design”, involving shaped surfaces on the areas between the knobbles intended to support the tread better and contribute to grip on softer surfaces. They look pretty funky, and the prices are very reasonable too – basic wire bead ones are £12.95, Kevlar bead with a higher thread count £24.95 and Protection version with a polyamide mesh reinforced sidewall (which only adds 10g to the weight) £26.95 – that’s a new lower price for all of Conti’s Protection range.
Road riders may well be interested in the new GP Force/GP Attack tyres. They’re a development of Conti’s well-regarded GP 3000s and mark the introduction of specific front/rear tyres for road bikes. Unlike MTB norms, the rear Force is slightly wider than the front Attack (23 rear/22 front), with the front tyre being further lightened by only having one anti-puncture layer rather than the rear’s two. The Force weighs 210g, the Attack 190g. And they’ve got funky tread patterns inspired by Conti’s motorbike tyres.
DT-Swiss is best known for spokes and hubs, so it’s a natural progression for them to move into rims too. They’re kicking off the range with a brace of mountain bike rims, the rim brake-friendly XR4.1 and its disc-specific brother the XR4.1D. DT is pushing stiffness and durability with these rims. At 425g they’re a whisker heavier than Mavic’s benchmark XC rim the X517, but DT claim that these will take 40% higher spoke tension than rival rims. Tighter spokes means a stronger wheel, so that’s a good thing. Most features are as you’d expect from a top-line rim – welded join, machined sidewalls (they’re actually machined twice, before and after anodising), angled spoke eyelets… The rim brake version also has tiny “pits” around the braking surface to act as wear indicators – once you can’t see them, it’s time for a new rim. The disc brake version uses the same section but without the second dose of machining or the wear indicators.
There’s also a new spoke from DT, the Aerolight. It’s essentially a Revolution flattened to give it a bladed section. It’ll fit through conventional hubs, it’s light and it should be even stronger as it’s been work-hardened twice…
On the subject of wheels, this is a prototype of the imminent XTR UST tubeless wheelset. The rim’ll be anodised to match the rest of the group in production. Hubs are a straight-pull version of XTR. The wheels are disc-only and promise “CrossMaxish weight”.
Back to DT-Swiss, who are now also doing rear shocks. There are two versions, the 210L with lockout (£299), and the 225 without (£225). Both shocks have adjustable rebound damping via a large and easy-to-use dial. They’re air shocks with an elastomer negative spring – the preload on the negative spring varies according to the pressure in the main spring. They’re both very light, with the 210L weighing just 208g. A very neat touch are the in-built ball joints at the eyelets to isolate the shock from any twisting or off-axis loads from wibbly rear suspension which should extend shock life considerably.
Bottle cages aren’t terribly hip, but this Elite carbon fibre one is probably as cool as bottle cages get. It weighs under 30g and will cost you £49.95… Elite make a range of cages to fit their own smaller diameter bottles, but the carbon cage is available in the traditional dimensions too.
And while we’re looking at faintly uncool yet cool stuff, here’s Agu’s new waterproof panniers. This one’s full of water (and yes, that’s a plastic fish bobbing around inside) but we’re assured that they’re waterproof in the other (more useful) direction too.
Just when everyone’s getting used to rakish angular helmets largely thanks to Giro’s classic Exodus, along come Giro with something altogether more organic. This is the Xen, a helmet that takes styling cues from Giro’s jump/dual oriented Semi helmets but mixes in big XC-friendly vents and visor. There’s a lot more coverage around the back of the head than most helmets, and we really like the looks. At £99 the Xen’s distinctly high-end, but expect to see the style trickle down to more affordable helmets over the next couple of years.
Finally, we were endlessly entertained by Madison’s demo illustrating just why Rema Tip-Top patches are the finest puncture repairers in the world. We already knew this (it’s the feathered edge that does it…) but it was gratifying to see the unparalleled adhesion and stretchiness of the Tip-Top patch being graphically illustrated with the help of bits of truck inner tube with holes in them being inflated until growing to the size of your head and then exploding…