I thought I’d end 2015 with a short round up of the products that for me, stood out the most in 2015. It’s a personal view, so it’s just my opinion but these are the products that I either tried or took a shine to in reading about this year. I hope you find it interesting.
Trek Madone 9 Series:
The brand new Trek Madone is the bike that got me most excited this year. I love it for the huge amount of research Trek put into it (and engineering resources). I love aero bikes anyway and moving them to this next level, whilst adding in the IsoSpeed for comfort is a winner for me. They look stunning in the flesh as you can see in this simple walk-around video I made at Trek World. I’ve not ridden one but the journalists I’ve spoken to that have were gushing in their praise. It’s not a bike I could afford at present but if I had the money, I can’t think of another high end bike I’d rather buy.
My favourite review of this bike is from Bicycling Magazine: http://www.bicycling.com/bikes-gear/reviews/first-look-and-ride-2016-trek-madone-9-series
The Genesis Datum is, I believe, another very positive step forwards for bikes designed for real world British riding conditions. Bikes make for our dodgy weather and disintegrating roads and a recognition that the vast majority of new riders are not racing but want a fun bike they can ride all day and explore on. In my opinion the Genesis Datum nails this almost perfectly. It’s comfortable, smooth, fun to ride, has flat mount disc brakes that in hydraulic form are superb, huge tyres clearances allowing you to enjoy the benefits of wide fast tyres (or multi-use tyres for the occasional bridleway). This is a bike I loved riding and would be happy to spend my own money on. Not a race bike but a wonderful, fun companion you can ride all day and step with a smile on your face. Full review soon but you can read my first thoughts here: https://girodilento.com/genesis-datum-30-first-look-review/
Kinesis 4S Disc
Another star of this year for me was the announcement of the Kinesis 4S Disc. I had a TK3 (before it was re-named the 4S, review here) and knew that Kinesis were looking to create a disc version but how they’ve done that I think makes it a standout of the year. The 4S Disc is compatible with flat mount disc brakes, which make the look of the frame and fork cleaner – but also allow you to run post mount disc brakes. Not only that, the 4S Disc can also be built to run caliper brakes – so you can build it to use any caliper (long drop) parts you have around and upgrade to discs when you’re ready. I think this is fantastic. It’s also internally wired and compatible with mechanical or Di2 groupsets. Brilliant. Not only that but you can run 28-30mm tyres with full mudguards and there are rack mounts too. The 4S Disc is more or a race geometry than endurance so if you want a lively, quick, fun to ride all-weather, all-season ride that you can build up in virtually anyway you like – this could be it. The most versatile bike of the year I reckon!
More info here: http://www.kinesisbikes.co.uk/Catalogue/Models/Racelight/4S-DISC
Road.cc have just reviewed one here: http://road.cc/content/review/173850-kinesis-4s-disc-frame-and-fork
Garmin Edge 1000
Whilst there has been lots of new cycling GPS launches this year including the new Lezyne models and new smaller Garmin models like the 20, 25 and 520, I’m happier than ever to be still using the 1000. I love the bigger screen, which makes it much easier to see the map, or have more data fields on the screen and I’ve found it to work well almost all of the time. My previous Garmin was an 800 and I’ve not once lamented for the smaller screen. Yes, it can make it tricky to fit on the occasional review bike but the out-front mount takes care of that. For me it’s a bit like my smart phone – now that I have a 5” screen, I’d never go back to a 4” screen. I love the Garmin Edge 1000 – it’s an essential part of my riding.
Rapha Pro Team Jacket
During the last year, one of the pieces of cycling clothing I’ve most loved wearing …. And worn an awful lot is the Rapha Pro-Team jacket. I wrote a glowing review of it here: https://girodilento.com/rapha-pro-team-jacket-review/ and amongst other things, praised it for being a great match with UK winter riding temperatures which don’t get too cold – with it’s breatheable back and wind proof front, I’ve found it a stylish and effective companion on cool weather rides. I also love Rapha’s packable rain jacket (http://www.rapha.cc/gb/en/shop/rain-jacket/product/RJK06) especially in the now defunct Orange that I have and it makes a perfect compliment to the Pro Team Jacket. Keep it in your back pocket for when the rain gets heavier than a shower or for a touch of extra warmth on colder days or for when you stop to chat whilst riding.
Lezyne LED Lights range
As someone who blogs when I have the time, rather than it being my job, sometimes it can take a long time for me to write reviews. The one brand this has worked against the most on this site is Lezyne. For example, last year I was sent a terrific PowerDrive XL LED light but a busy year meant that Lezyne’s new range is out before I’ve managed to review the old one. My apologies to Lezyne for this but the amazing thing is that each year Lezyne seem to make a huge improvement to their LED lights range and the PowerDrive XL is actually a terrific example. The light I have and have been very pleased with is rated at 600 lumens – it’s a terrific and easy to use product. The new version of the same light is now rated at 900 lumens! A 50% increase in power in one year. The Macro drive light I have was 200 lumens when I got it, the latest one is rated at 600 lumens! Lezyne products in my experience have always been well engineered and a pleasure to own. The fact that each year the company improves its products so much means there is never a bad time to buy something from Lezyne …. Even it’s bad news for slow reviewers like me. I’ve learnt my lesson though, anything from Lezyne and I need to crack on and get it reviewed quick!
Over the last 18 months, I’ve ridden over 4,000km indoors on a Wattbike and it’s featured in a range of blog posts: https://girodilento.com/category/wattbike/. The Wattbike has fundamentally changed my view of training and I’ve shown myself again and again that if I do the work on the Wattbike (often in a surprisingly short amount of time each week) I get the results out on the road. I’ve just been upgraded to the latest blue-tooth compatible model and am currently half way through my 16 week winter training plan and I can already feel that I’m noticeably fitter than I started with what’s a relatively low intensity plan. If you want one post that encapsulates what I’ve learnt, this is the one to read: https://girodilento.com/learnt-2000km-wattbike/
Reynolds 58 Aero wheels
I’ve been lucky enough to have had a long term pair of Reynolds 58 Aero wheels to ride and I really have been lucky as they’re fantastic. I run them mostly on my NeilPryde Aero bike as you can see in this post: https://girodilento.com/first-look-neilpryde-alizenazare-di2-aero-test-platform/ but I’ve also spent a lot of time riding them on my steel Stoemper Taylör. The 58 Aeros are the same 58mm depth as the Zipp 404 and they’re just flat out fast. All of my fastest ever rides, have been on these wheels. I’ve ridden them on Belgian cobbles (during the Liege Bastogne Liege Sportive) through to gravel and the UK’s normal pot hole filled roads. They’ve been faultless and have survived everything I’ve thrown at them with only 1 minor true-ing after I hit a pothole hard at 60+kmh on a descent.
Recent advances in aerodynamics have transformed wheels like these, to the point that rather than being worried about riding in the wind (and I’ve ridden these in 30mph winds), I reckon they give you more speed in the wind. The 58 Aeros are impressively light for the weight and I can still climb happily on them knowing that everyone is going slowly when it’s steep but all the rest of the time – these wheels just add extra speed. Yes, they’re expensive but they really are a terrific all rounder.
More info here: http://www.reynoldscycling.com/wheels/58_Aero
Shimano Ultegra Di2
Over the last year and a half, I’ve ridden thousands of kilometres on Shimano’s 11 speed Utegra Di2 drivetrain and I’m still completely smitten. On each bike I’ve ridden it on (including my own: https://girodilento.com/shimano-ultegra-6870-di2-11-speed-install-early-riding-impressions/), it’s been faultless. The battery charge lasts for months, the shifting is faultless – and when you swap wheels you can even trim while you’re riding. I went from thinking it was perhaps an expensive extravagance to it being my first choice (budget allowing) on any bike that I wasn’t looking for the lightest weight on (Dura Ace mechanical would be my personal choice in those cases). Once you’ve spent time on Di2, you’ll quite possibly like me, become even more smitten. It’s a terrific groupset.
Shimano Flat mount disc brakes RS805 and RS505
Shimano’s first generation road disc hydraulic disc brakes were instantly impressive to ride but I felt they looked like more of a mountain bike adaption rather than something engineered specifically for the road. This meant that to me, they look bulky and are heavier than I’d like. However this has been all fixed beautifully by the newly released flat mount RS805 and RS505 brakes. I’ve had the pleasure of riding them on a few bikes including the Genesis Datum and the latest Rose bikes and they work just as well as the post mount brakes but are smaller, lighter, more discrete and better looking than the older models. Not only that but as you can see on the Kinesis 4S Disc, flat mount compatible forks are much cleaner and allow the possibility (with the right brand) to be both caliper or disc compatible – which is great for us punters. These are terrific brakes and if you’re going disc – they’re my pick. Here’s what I wrote when they were first announced: https://girodilento.com/the-next-big-news-in-road-disc-brakes-is-here-shimano-flat-mount/
Bontrager Race Thermal Bib shorts
Well over a year later, these are still my favourite “affordable” bib shorts and the pair I have are still going strong. For a reasonable (to me) £75, the Bontrager Race Thermal are some of the nicest bib shorts I’ve ridden: very comfortable, a good pad, hard wearing and a great fit. I love these shorts and wear them more than most of the more expensive shorts in my wardrobe. I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending them – they’re great! I still stand by everything I wrote about them in this post: https://girodilento.com/first-look-bontrager-2014-soft-goods-range-highlights/
A few months ago I was invited to attend the 2016 Cannondale launch in the UK. Cannondale were obviously excited and proud of the updates in the new CAAD12 and the revised SuperSix range but they were politely insistent that I heard the story about the new Slate. I have to be honest, I agreed to listen out of politeness more than anything but I’m very glad I did. To me the Cannondale Slate is most likely the most innovative bike of the year and I couldn’t have entertained a list like this without featuring it. It’s a really clever design and I applaud Cannondale for releasing it. It feels like one of those concept cars that get shown at a show then get watered down massively before release, except that in this case it’s come to market exactly as envisaged. From the 650B wheels running 42mm tyres with the same rolling dimensions as a 700x23mm wheel to the highly regarded lefty 30mm travel suspension fork, the Slate is a fantastic piece of innovation. Reviews have been very positive and it’s a bike that’s hard to pigeon hole, which also highlights how they’ve created something special. This is one of those bikes that when you look at how it’s designed closely it makes you realise how narrow the design of road and Cyclocross bikes has been – slight differences here and there on the whole. The Slate gives us a big push to think more laterally and I am delighted to see it launched. It’s given my own sometimes too narrow view a good kick and I’m grateful for it.
Find out more here
Hunt & Kinesis wheels
Until a year or so ago, when people asked me for an upgrade wheel recommendation over the ones supplied with a bike, I usually said the Mavic Ksyrium Elites. At around 1520gms a pair, they ride comfortably for a stiff wheel, are bomb proof and serviceable in most bike shops, they were an easy recommendation. This year has seen that change as both Hunt and Kinesis released wheels that I think change my recommendations for good for road caliper braked wheels (and disc wheels too). The Mavics are around £500 a pair but now for around £300 a pair you can have wheels of a similar weight (if not lighter) with wider rims for better cornering, comfort and fit with wider tyres, tubeless compatibility (future proofing), quality reliable sealed bearings hubs. For training, general riding and upgrades – you can’t go wrong with either the Hunt or Kinesis wheels in my view. These are well thought out, well specced and well-built for the money. I’m riding the Kinesis Racelight Disc wheels at the moment (https://girodilento.com/first-ride-review-kinesis-racelight-disc-wheels/) and have been really impressed. I’ve not ridden Hunt wheels yet, but I’ve read the reviews and I know that the team at Hunt have also done their homework. Hopefully I’ll try some in 2016.
Thanks for reading and I wish you a happy and successful 2016