Hexlox – a great way to protect components

Life is too short to ride shitty bikes. There’s no point in having a fleet of nice machines sitting in the shed or hanging on your apartment wall if you’re going to ride a rusty old beater down to the coffee shop. But you don’t want some sticky-fingered swine making off with your vintage-road-bike-turned-commuter, either.

Protecting the frame is simple – invest in a good lock. Spend as much as you can afford to, you’ll have it for years and the peace of mind will be worth every cent. What about the peripherals, though? Those beautiful handmade wheels and the nicely broken-in Brooks saddle that is now perfectly contoured to your backside – they need protecting too. No cyclist ever wants to come back to a locked-up frame that’s been relieved of its wheels. Even the thought of it is enough to make you wince. 

The second I heard about Hexlox, I was intrigued. A magnetic hex-shaped insert blocks anyone from using a hex key on your bolts, and it can only be removed by a key that’s unique to each set. It’s such a simple idea, but one that could potentially save you a small fortune in foiled theft attempts.

How it works

The Hexlox sits inside your hex (Allen) bolts, magnetically attached to the metal. It takes seconds to set up. If your bolts are aluminium or titanium, you’ll have to buy an additional insert, but it still looks incredibly straightforward. I’ll admit to fudging the job on my seatpost. I ran out of the right sized Hexlox and needed to use a small one, but even with the poorly fitting Hexlox, I couldn’t get it out of the slot after several minutes trying with some wire and a knife. I also tried a magnet, with no success. There’s a video showing why that won’t work, here. 

Anyway, once you know the correct size of all your bolts, you just order what you need from the site and slot them into place. After that, the only thing you have to do is keep the key in a safe place, because each one is unique. There’s also a replacement code in case you need a spare.

I also installed some of their anti-theft skewers, because I was tired of always having to bring an extra lock for my front wheel. They basically just replace normal quick-release skewers with a hex-bolt skewer that can then be secured with a Hexlox. They also have conical heads and anti-spin teeth that sit into in the dropout, protecting against attacks with pliers.

Conclusion

A complete bike kit including skewers sells for €71.99, with free worldwide shipping from their HQ in Germany. Weighed up against the cost of replacing a nice set of wheels, or a good seatpost and saddle, it’s a good investment. It’s a one-time purchase that takes the worry out of leaving a nice ride locked up around town. 

Is it totally theft proof? Probably not, nothing is. I’m sure that if you had a load of tools and plenty of time, you could figure out some way to break them, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a very clever little product. I can’t imagine anyone is going to be industrious or determined enough to get past them in a real world scenario. I think it does a really good job, it’s simple but secure, and I’m going to buy some more of them. 


The Rapha Commuter: A New Winter Staple

Rapha’s new Commuter jacket has been getting a lot of use lately. My take? There’s nothing like the smug feeling of staying dry in a downpour to keep you warm while you’re riding in the winter. And the bright orange helps too.

It also comes in yellow, bright pink, and black, and all of them feature a reflective dot print on the rear for visibility. When paired with a beanie, I’m told that the orange makes me look like I’m about to audition for the next season of Deadliest Catch, but I’m ok with that. The black certainly looks cool, but the brighter colours are more functional for city riding in poor conditions. They’re a nice halfway house for those of us who want to be seen while in traffic, but who are two vain to wear one of those horrific safety bibs. And the jacket’s cut and understated detailing is stylish enough to get away with it.

Speaking of the cut, it isn’t as extreme as a proper roadie rain cape, and for anyone commuting stretched-out in the drops, it could be slightly longer in the tail to provide more protection, but it’s definitely made with riding in mind, with longer sleeves and stretchy cuffs that provide plenty of mobility and cover while you’re on the go. The sizing is generous, so it might be worth considering going down one if you don’t plan on wearing it with layers. As is, it works well with other clothing and definitely isn’t something I’d only use with the bike. The next time I go hiking, this will be coming with me. 

According to Rapha, it’s made with a “hydrophobic membrane.” It’s waterproof, basically. The seams are sealed and the zip is waterproof, running off centre for a classically Rapha look. The hood is roomy and can be stored away under a nice little reflective strap, but I’m not sure how much I’d use that given the jacket’s main function is to keep me dry when it’s lashing rain. There’s also some concealed mesh on the back of the shoulders with venting that helps keep things comfortable. And the inside of the fabric is soft to the touch, so it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a bin liner. Overall, it’s about as comfortable as a fully waterproof jacket is going to be.

At $135/€120, this just about classifies as a bargain these days. For context, for the same money you could get four pairs of “aero” socks, or a third of a pair of Assos T.campionissimo shorts. There are cheaper raincoats, obviously, but not from a brand like Rapha. Everything bike-related seems to get more expensive each year, and it’s cool to see a major brand go the other way for once. Rapha deserve credit for making a reasonably-priced product that doesn’t feel like the poor relative of the one you really wanted.


Ornot: A Low-Key Alternative

West Coast riders are likely familiar with Ornot, since they launched in San Francisco back in 2013. But to the wider world, it’s still a relative newcomer and I’ll admit that, prior to their recent European launch, I’d never heard of them.

There’s a lot to like about Ornot. For starters, there was their motto: “You could be a rolling billboard, Ornot.” Intrusive branding has always been a turn off for me, so any company that promises to lose the logos has my full support. I also like the straightforward line-up. They offer a set of classy bib shorts and a few different types of jerseys. By contrast, one of the major Italian brands currently offers 19 different variations of shorts on their website. I like that Ornot are keeping things simple, and just focusing on making the best bib they can.

The first time I pulled said bibs on, the pad felt a little thin. On the bike though, it was plenty comfortable and after a few months riding I now prefer its lower profile. The material used has a nice texture to it and feels a little bit compressive, and the chunky cuffs look cool and keep everything in place.

At €134/$180, they’re not exactly cheap, but they feel like good value. In terms of comfort and ergonomics, they’re as good as any bibs I’ve tried, but crucially, there’s an obvious attention to detail in their construction. They feel more robust than a lot of other high-end bibs in my wardrobe, and with a good warranty and a crash replacement policy in place, you’ll get your money’s worth out of them. And aside from the blue detail on the right leg cuff, they’re neutral style-wise, so they’ll easily pair with any jersey or jacket you fancy wearing.

The Work Jersey I tested feels great, too. It’s comfortable and up close there are some nice little details in the design. The set-in sleeves look a bit retro, which I liked, and the olive colour is an understated alternative to the usual blacks and reds we see so much of in cycling clothing. I’d normally say that white is the only acceptable colour for a cycling sock, but the matching olive numbers that came with the kit really made it pop.

Good stuff all round, basically, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on what they do in future.


Mission Workshop Goes Pavement And Gravel

Mission Workshop Pavel And Gravel PNG collection

Mission Workshop has been expanding its lineup of cycling apparel and the latest addition from the San Francisco-based outfitter, the Pavement and Gravel (PNG) Cycling Collection, is more than just some plain black outfit.

As its name suggests, it is designed for mixed-surface cycling and Mission Workshop went to great lengths to find the right fabric for the job, as they have always done for their products. The collection includes a jersey, a bib short, an ultralight jacket, a base layer, and a pair of socks.

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Each individual piece of garment varies in its construction. Highlights include the ultralight Japanese weather and water-resistant material on the Interval jacket, incorporation of Dyneema fiber in the bibs for crash resistance, the novel 37.5 fabric that is said to be embedded with microporous particles derived from volcanic sand and activated carbon to keep the wearer’s body core temperature at an ideal 37.5° Celsius and 37.5% humidity for optimal thermoregulation.

All items are available for purchase today.

Mission Workshop Pavel And Gravel PNG collection

www.missionworkshop.com


Hexlox: One thru axle to rule them all?

Hexlox HexThru thru axle

It’s a big claim, but German brand Hexlox are convinced that their new modular HexThru thru axle can and will fit any bike. Using a system they call Perfect Fit, it can replace any thru axle on the market. It comes in just three sizes: 12mm and 15mm for the front , 12mm for the rear.

It works like this: The variable length and interchangeable thread adapts to fit any fork/hub combo, with no measurements necessary. This means that stiffness and steering are optimal, because the axle always threads completely into the fork. Hexlox say that their three sizes will work on anything, from road bikes to fat bikes. It will also fit into any trailer or trainer on the market.

There are few standards in modern bike trends, and the tendency seems always to tilt towards more, rather than less, complication. For the home mechanic – hell, for any mechanic – that causes plenty of expensive and time-consuming problems. An incorrect fit can also end up wrecking your bike, or if you’re really unlucky, your face.

We currently have some of their other products here for inspection and the build quality is top notch. So while the HexThru is due to drop in the next couple of months, we’d be confident in saying that these will be no different. And we will definitely pick up a set ASAP for a proper review, so watch this space.

Hexlox HexThru thru axle

Ibis’ No-Cut Adjustable Width Handlebar

Ibis adjustable carbon handlebar Hi-Fi Lo-Fi
Photo: Ibis Cycles

I remember shopping for a handlebar for my mountain bike, a 26-inch “dinosaur” last year and was faced with the dilemma of how long of a bar I would go for. 800mm felt a bit long and 725mm didn’t feel quite right. I ended up getting some 740s but I always wonder what if I got a longer bar? I know, I can always get a long bar and trim it down later, but what if I wanted to go back?

They say it’s the small details that count and Ibis seems to have a solution: a non-destructive, adjustable width carbon handlebar.

Ibis adjustable carbon handlebar Hi-Fi Lo-Fi
Photo: Ibis Cycles

The idea is rather simple: a 750mm long carbon handlebar base with 25mm threaded aluminum inserts for each end. Thread ’em in and violà, an 800mm bar! It is now possible to change handlebar widths back and forth for experimenting without buying a new one.

Ibis adjustable carbon handlebar Hi-Fi Lo-Fi
Photo: Ibis Cycles

The hollow inserts are cuttable for custom widths as well. If you manage to screwed those up, replacements are conveniently procurable at a mere $15. In addition, the bars are backed by Ibis’ seven-year warranty.

Ibis adjustable carbon handlebar inserts Hi-Fi Lo-Fi
Photo: Ibis Cycles

Ibis will offer the adjustable bars in two rise options: a 10mm rise Lo-Fi and a 30mm rise Hi-Fi. Both bars will have 9 degrees of up sweep, 5 degrees of back sweep, and will be compatible with 31.8mm clamps only. The bars are now shipping with select higher-end complete bike builds, as an upgrade for the entry level NX and GX builds, and will be available on its own coming this fall for $169.99.

Ibis adjustable carbon handlebar Hi-Fi Lo-Fi
Photo: Ibis Cycles

www.ibiscycles.com


Julbo Aerospeed: High Tech Shades From A Historic French Brand

Julbo is a French brand that’s been in the eyewear game a long time. 130 years, to be exact. They started out when the company’s founder made a pair of specs for some Chamonix crystal hunters, people who climb Mont Blanc in search of precious stones (it really is a thing). They’ve been creating innovative glasses for mountaineers ever since.

Over the years, they’ve also branched out into skiing, trail running, and cycling. Two-time USA Cyclo-cross National Champion Stephen Hyde is just one of the many high-profile athletes they sponsor. Despite all that, I’d never heard of Julbo. And then, looking for something a little different, I got a pair earlier this year, right around the time Jakob Schiller posted a review of his own pair on here.

Photochromic goodness

I went for the Aerospeed model. It came with the company’s own Zebra Light Reactiv lens, which is photochromic, meaning it darkens upon contact with UV rays. If you live somewhere where the sun is always shining, this won’t make much of a difference. But for anyone dealing with variable conditions, or riding in areas that go from light to shade, like a forest, it works a treat. And, sartorial considerations aside, for me, it put a stop to staring out the window trying to decide which shades to wear on any given day. They’re good when it’s hot and sunny. They’re good when it’s grey and wet.

Straight out of the box, I was worried that the bridge was a little big and that it might obstruct vision. It doesn’t. Once they’re on, it’s easy to forget you’re wearing them. They’re light, and the combination of ventilation and anti-fog coating means that they don’t steam up, either.

Value for money … relatively speaking

I have a stupidly large collection of glasses. And I love them. But if you’re more practical than that, the photochromic lens alleviates the need to buy different glass for different conditions. Which is great, because the last thing most people want to do after shelling out $190 for something like Rapha’s Flyweight glasses is to reach back into their wallets for another $110 to get an alternate lens.

Speaking of which, I was a big fan of those Rapha shades, right up until the other day when the somewhat flimsy bracket connecting the arm to the lens snapped right off as I was putting them on. Not cool. The Aerospeeds aren’t quite as light as those Flyweights, but they’re close, and they feel a whole lot sturdier.

For $190 with a lens that you won’t have to swap around depending on the conditions, these Julbo Aerospeeds are a great option for anyone who wants something a little out of the ordinary. They might not have the brand recognition of the big players in cycling, but they certainly have historical pedigree and with that photochromic lens, they’re right up to speed in terms of technology, too. Overall, a solid choice.


Silca seat rolls – a tidy new take on a cycling staple

Silca Grande Americano

If you’ve been riding a long time, you probably have a fine collection of saddle bags. It’s just one of those things that we keep buying. Like the next one is going to be the one, the bag that fits all you want to fit, that doesn’t bounce around, or weigh a ton, or rub off your inner thighs when you’re high up on the saddle, or, worst of all, look like a Fred accessory on your hot new race machine.

Aesthetically, I’m been a fan of the classic pre-glued tubular neatly wrapped and tucked under the saddle, but that means having a couple of CO2 cartridges and a multi-tool bouncing around in your rear jersey pockets, which can be annoying. A storage bottle that slots right into your second cage is great too, right until you want to go on a long ride mid-summer and find yourself scrambling around for the old saddle bag so that you can carry more water.

I loved Scicon’s Roller 2.1 system where the bag clicked onto a quick release bracket … right until I hit a pothole and my pack went flying. In the middle of a fast descent in a granfondo. And so I gravitated back to the simplest of them all, a beat-up old rectangular pouch that’s secured to the seat posts with a long, wraparound piece of velcro. Hardly bling, but it worked.

Then along came Silca’s Grande Americano seat roll. Same idea – something wraps around it to secure it to the saddle rails – but instead of velcro, it’s a fancy BOA system, that most of you are probably familiar with from your shoes.

It’s exactly what you’d expect from Silca these days: Carefully considered, well-made, and at $58, not exactly cheap. There’s a lot of storage potential and it’s all kept tidy by three interior compartments that fold over onto one another. I had to pack and unpack a couple of times to get it to fold up the way I wanted – ie, as compact as possible – but now it’s a pleasure to use, with easy access to everything I could need on a ride. I carry some CO2, some tyre levers, a spare tube (Silca’s Latex offering is awesome if you swing that way), a mini-tool and a patch kit, but there’s room in there for more if you don’t mind it looking a bit bulkier.

So is it worth it? Well, in a sport where it’s OK to spend $30 on a fancy cream to rub on your crotch, I’d have to say yes. You could pick another saddle bag out of a bargain bin somewhere, and for a fraction of the price, it will do the same job. It just won’t do it as well. And it’s not like tyres or bar-tape that you’ll be replacing once or twice a season. Treat yourself, it will last for years, and if you’re a nerd like me, every time you open it you’ll get a little kick of smug satisfaction looking at how tidy all your stuff is.

 

 

Silca Grande Americano

 


Giro’s Aether Integrates MIPS To A Whole New Level

Giro Aether MIPS
Photo: Giro

The Giro Aether MIPS may have the appearance of the much-loved Synthe MIPS, but the similarity ends there. The new flagship road racing lid is definitely not a 2.0 version of its predecessor. It’s got all the goods under the hood.

The Santa Cruz helmet firm has been one of the early adaptors of integrating MIPS (short for Multi-directional Impact Protection System) liner into its helmet lineup. Since then, having MIPS in a helmet is like having Gore-Tex in a rain jacket. Simply put, MIPS got all the buzz (for obviously good reasons of course).

Giro Aether MIPS
Photo: Giro

At the heart of the Aether MIPS is the new version of MIPS called MIPS Spherical. First used in Giro’s Avance ski helmet, the new design ditches the plastic slip-plane liner in favor of a two part progressively-layered Nanobead EPS foam liner where the inner foam behaves like the old plastic liner that rotates in the event of a crash.

Giro Aether MIPS
Testing the Aether MIPS at Giro’s own state-of-the-art test lab. Photo: giro

It’s very much like a helmet on top of a helmet. Not only does the new integration free up some of the precious headroom but it also eliminates the chance of rubbing one’s melon against a hard piece of plastic due to worn pads. MIPS Spherical seamlessly integrates the core function of MIPS to reduce rotational energy. Without the plastic “net,” the Aether is said to be significantly more comfortable and better ventilated.

Giro Aether MIPS
Photo: Giro

With that, Giro went further in refining the helmet with a slew of other innovations. The outer EPS liner is covered by a six-piece polycarbonate shell between the deep venting channels where it forces air over the scalp for the maximum cooling effect. For better safety, the Aether is supplemented with a translucent shatter-resistant arch across the top called AURA, short for Aerodynamic Ultimate Reinforcing Arch. Speaking of aerodynamics, Giro’s own wind tunnel testing shows it’s a decent performer in that regard as well.

Giro Aether MIPS
The translucent, shatter-resistant AURA arch. Photo: Giro

No helmet is complete without a retention system in the rear. Giro paired the Aether with a Roc Loc 5+ Air featuring independent left/right cradle adjustment, three step height adjustment and of course, the iconic fit dial adjuster.

Giro Aether MIPS
Roc Loc 5+ Air. Photo: Giro

But wait, there’s more. The Aether, like many of the top of the line helmets these days, has an integrated docking port for sunglasses and anti-microbial padding throughout. As a final touch, the Giro logos on both sides are laser-cut and pressed in to create a 3D look. A medium CE certified Aether MIPS is said to be 250 grams. We will be getting a test unit so stay tuned for our in depth review soon.

Giro Aether MIPS
One piece laser-cut and molded logo. Photo: Giro

The Aether will be available starting August 1st for $325/€299/£260/AU$475 in 3 sizes, with 9 different colors including three limited editions.


LEM Helmets: The New(ish) Kid On The Block

Founded in 1972, Italian helmet maker LEM, short for Lavorazioni Elmi Magnani, or roughly translated in English as “Helmet Workshop of Magnani,” is coming stateside with a full line of bike helmets.

Now based in Morgan Hill, California, the helmet maker is set to offer seven models in 50 colors ranging from the $40 Lil’ Champ toddler’s helmet to the $110 flagship Gavia lid for the road (told you it’s a full lineup). Yay for more choices!

All LEM helmets will be available directly to consumers starting mid-July.

www.lemhelmets.com