The 9 Coolest Products From PressCamp Road

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Feedback Sports' Ominum Trainer all packed and ready go to. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Beeline had one of their mobile bike shop on hand to help setting up the bikes, such as installing pedals for me because I forgot to bring a 8mm hex wrench, I blame that on my mini-tool. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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FSA's SLK crankset with their new super compact chainring aiming for the adventure/gravel crowd. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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DMT's slick RS1 featuring a single BOA dial to tighten/loosen the skeleton skin top. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Kenda's Flintridge Pro gravel tire, now available in 35c and 40c Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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SCICON AeroComfort Road 3.0 TSA bike travel bag, the choice of ProTour teams when they have to ship their bikes to races. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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What really makes SCICON AeroComfort Road 3.0 bag so unique is its wheeled caddy which secures your bike in the bag without the need of removing the handlebar and seatpost. All you need is to take the wheels off, mount the bike on the caddy and put the bag over it. Yay for being able to keep your dialed bike fit intact. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Variety of pedal stack for your Speedplay Syzr pedals. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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... As well as customizable axle lengths. Photo: Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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This must be the first time where I had a presention done in the dark. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The Joder riding shirt from Colorado's Panache Cyclewear Photo:Stephen Lam/ element.ly

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Panache's Joder riding shirt features a full zipper, but perhaps the biggest standout are its two lower front pockets for small items such as gels, bars, phone, etc. Photo:Stephen Lam/ element.ly

For the first time ever, the annual spring PressCamp was all about road and by that I mean any bikes that come with a drop handlebar.

Here are the 9 coolest products I saw from the two days of back-to-back meetings.

Ridley Helium SLX

Prized for its comfort and the lack of grams, the Helium has long been a proven staple in Ridley’s line up and has had its share of refinement over the years. The newest iteration, the Helium SLX, is its lightest yet and continues to live up to this featherweight chemical element. With a new blend of Ridley’s 60T carbon and a new lay up schedule, Ridley was about to bring the frame down to 750g for a medium size while increasing its stiffness about 15% more than the previous model.

As for tire clearances, Ridley recommends a max 25mm for tires and 28mm for rim widths. In other words, most of the new wide aero wheels on the market will play nicely with the Helium SLX. Cable routings are now fully internal for both mechanical and electronic shifting groups for a cleaner appearance.

The sub-300 gram fork now features a full monocoque straight blade design and that’s counting its stainless steel inserts at the dropout for better alignment and protection. I briefly test rode the $5,800 version with full Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 mechanicals and the initial review was quite positive. The bike begs to be climbed, moves so eagerly with every pedal stroke and steers precisely around twisty descents. The geometry gravitates towards the aggressive racing stance as it was made for the ProTours, but I found the Helium to be comfortable, not squishy. Stay tuned for a long-term review soon.

Raleigh Stuntman ($2,499)

Inspired by the character Colt Seavers (by actor Lee Majors) in the 1981 television series The Fall Guythe Stuntman is tailor-made for those who spend their days in the office planning their next bike camping epic. The gorgeously-painted frame is made out of double-butted Reynolds 631 steel for comfort and durability, but with modernized specs such as a 142×12 rear axle, a tapered headtube, and plenty of tire clearance (more on that later). In fact, the frame feels so solid we reckon it’ll be pretty difficult to break in half unless you decide to enter Redbull Rampage with one.

We think the components choice is pretty well fitting for what the bike is intended for as well: A no-nonsense full SRAM Rival 1X11 drivetrain with a 40T front ring for propulsion along with matching hydraulic discs to slow things down when called for. And when the road (or groad) gets a bit more gnarly, you could use the mechanical dropper post with 65-80mm of travel from a bar mounted remote on Raleigh’s own branded drop-bar with 16 degree flare in its drops. Interestingly enough, the Stuntman went with a full aluminum fork for better strength which also keeps the price low. Did I mention there are mounts for racks and fenders? So yes, all this bike missing is the stuntman himself.

The wheel build is an interesting proposition too: 50C (!) Clement X’PLOR MSO Tubeless rubbers mounted to sealed Novatec hubs laced to 28mm wide Weinmann U28TL tubeless rims with 32 14/15g butted stainless spokes, brass nipples. It’s nowhere as exotic as say, a pair of Zipp 454 NSWs, but again, you don’t go off-road on your 4-Runner with HRE P201s with Pirelli P Zeros, do you?

FSA WE hybrid-wireless drivetrain ($TBA)

Over the years, new companies with new drivetrain ideas have popped up, getting some flare about how disruptive their products will be, and eventually flame out in one way or another… Let’s face it, the barrier to enter the drivetrain business is not only risky, requiring a lot more than money and engineering, but it’s also been dominated by the big three (Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo). That said, if there’s a company that could challenge the big three, FSA might just be it. You see, FSA has been cumulating their manufacturing know how for about 25 years making headsets, handlebars, cranksets, stems, wheels… essentially everything except a drivetrain group. Yet after years of development rumors and the occasional spy pics, they felt they finally have something to offer: The WE hybrid-electronic groupset.

But what the heck is a hybrid-wireless system anyway? Like is it wired AND wireless at the same time? The short answer, as confusing as it might be, is yes. The shifters are wireless utilizing  ANT+ to securely communicate with the derailleurs while the derailleurs are wired to be powered from the battery within the seatpost. This is a solution where FSA engineers felt was more reliable and longer-lasting (claimed 4,000 to 6,000km per charge). We’ll take their word for the time being before our long-term test but the samples they had at PressCamp looked very close to the production model with very clean lines and completely functional for rides. The shifters felt comfortable in my hands and the FSA will be offering carbon lever blades in two different lengths (6mm difference) for better ergonomics. What’s more, a companion app will be available for users to further customize their system for things such as shift speed and button function.

Now, the shifting operation is of course, different than what’s already out there. The WE utilizes a rocker switch with different textures to differentiate up and down shift.

It works as advertised, being able to do both single and multiple shifts when called for. The switch will take a bit of time to get used to since the buttons are relatively close to each other, but that could be matter of getting used to a system like the first time you use a Mac. We’ll see whether the WE will be as popular as Di2, eTAP, or EPS, but the competition just heated up a bit more.

ABUS YADD-I Urban Helmet ($79.99-89.99)

Originally beginning as an aero-helmet concept, the YADD-I is part of ABUS’ introduction to the US helmet market. Yes, ABUS is probably better known for their badass locks in the states but the German company has been producing helmets since 1992. At first glance the YADD-I might look like a modernized skater helmet, but beneath the shell are air channels (ABUS named it Forced Air Cooling Technology) to suck cold air in to keep your head cool. There’s even a detachable soft visor that works just like your favorite cycling cap. Instead of using a teethed or geared retention system, ABUS uses a simple but brilliant Soft Tune System where it simply uses an elastic band to automatically adjust to the user’s head. Nine colors will be available starting this April, and that’s not counting the special edition with the flag of the City Chicago on top. Nothing against Chicago but I’d be very happy if ABUS released one with the California Bear on top.

Kenda Valkyrie ($69.95)

Admittably, Kenda is better known for their line of mountain bike tires, but the Taiwanese tire maker’s newest top road offering, the Valkyrie, aims to change that as a result of three years of development at their new R&D center in Cleveland, Ohio (Fun fact: Kenda is an official sponsor of the Cleveland Cavaliers). With the Valkryie, Kenda claims a low rolling resistance and an increased wet/dry with the use of their third generation R3C rubber compound while the new KA armor takes care of puncture protection in lieu of the more common but heavier kevlar belt. At a claimed 178g for 23c, 182g for 25c, 235g for 28c and 265g for 30c, the Valkyrie sure reads like a high-performance racing tire. The 700x23c and 25c are available now, with the 28c and 30c available around later this spring. If you’re a tubular guy, the Valkyrie has you covered too, offering 22c and 24c wrapped on a 300tpi casing, (which will cost a bit more than the clincher version). The tubeless version is also in development.

Giordana Custom Program

If you’ve been on a local race team for a while, I am sure you know something about ordering, actually, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, picking the right apparel maker for your next team kit. Fit parties, back and forth, and I won’t even go into the actual design of the jersey. There’s a reason that very position on my team is appropriately named the kit bitch.

But Giordana is here to streamline that process and is opening up their line of speciality apparel for customization. Your team can now order custom water-shedding G-Shield jerseys/bibs for wet days and the lightweight Sahara jerseys/bibs for hot summer days, while having access to their customized Giordana elite FR-C line of clothing if you are so inclined. The order minimum is 10 and the program includes Giordana’s own in house designer to help with the design, from a finished template to ideas still on napkins, Giordana will be able to help and all garments will be made in the same factory in Italy as the rest of the Giordana’s offerings with an average 6-8 week turnaround from start to finish.

HIA Velo/Allied Cycle Works ALFA ($2,700 frame/fork)

Perhaps the most exciting news from PressCamp and for a good reason. Think about this for a second: For $2,700, you get a sub-800 gram frame (56cm) in six sizes plus two head tube heights per size to choose from, plus lifetime warranty and factory repair service. Sounds good right? The frame is made entirely in the U.S. (Little Rock, Arkansas, to be exact) starting from the pre-preg itself. Speaking of their composites, the ALFA includes the exclusive use of Innegra fiber within its layout to have better impact resistance and helps keep the frame together shall the frame fail for safety, and just so it won’t snap into a million pieces when you stupidly crash at your next criterium in category forever 4.

For a complete bike, HIA is planning to offer a complete build starting at $4,000 with full Ultegra mechanical. 4k is a decent amount of money for a bike but a very competitive price if you’re already looking at custom U.S. made bikes.

No small details were overlooked, as evident by the metal badge here in the downtube that doubled as an access port if you choose to run a mechanical groupset by simply swapping it.

Also, if you think the paint job on the ALFA is bitchin’, that’s because it is in fact gorgeous. The in-house paint department, formerly known as SoCal’s Cyclart, definitely knows a thing or two when it comes to paint. HIA is hoping to introduce new paint finishes every week because 1: They can, and 2: Showing up to a group ride on a bike with the same bike same paint job as someone else is just not fresh.

Infinity Bike Seat ($170-$295)

I was skeptical when I first saw the seats from Infinity. If there’s a museum of awkward looking saddles, the Infinity is probably going to be there. Afterall, where is my bottom supposed to go? So I gave the Infinity a shot during the presentation and surprise surprise, nothing catastrophic happened contrary to conventional wisdom. The saddle is finicky to test and to review upon, much less in a short demonstration. But the Infinity saddle felt different than other split saddles that I’ve tried. Perhaps it’s the next big thing after the latest clipped nose saddle rage?

But seriously, though, don’t judge a seat by its (lack of) cover.

Cipollini MCM custom ($3,872 frameset)

Almost a 180 degree difference from the Alfa aforementioned above, the Cipollini MCM is the Italian racer-turned-maker’s first made-to-order fame. For $3,872, you’ll get a slippery-looking carbon aero bike with custom geometry and custom finishes on a frame loaded with all the latest standards such as a tapered headtube, a BB86 bottom bracket, and mechanical/electronic shifting compatibilities. What’s more, the MCM will accommodate sizes from 44cm all the way to 63cm with tire clearance for 28C tires across the board.

While we’re on the MCM, it’s also worth mentioning the MCM2 that I feel is even more compelling. The MCM2 is currently still in the development phase and wasn’t shown at PressCamp, but it is in essence a MCM with an integrated electric motor. The current prototype is said to be around 10kg/22lbs but we should have more info on the bike soon. Hate eBikes all you want but I think the MCM2 is one of the hottest eBikes I’ve seen this year and it actually looks like a normal bike.

Don’t even think about bringing the MCM2 to your local races, though, that’s just wrong.


DeFeet BeSpoke pulls a crowdfunding solo breakaway

The new sock game. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Going into my meeting with DeFeet at PressCamp, I fully expected it to be all about socks and arm warmers.

I was (half) wrong. When I was told DeFeet Bespoke was “the world’s first cycling specific crowdfunding site,” I was like, oh great, more Kickstarters, another give me money but I am going to shut down in six months unicorn-esque pitch, or is it another cycling spin on etsy?

Well, no. Let me break it down for ya.

DeFeet Bespoke is essentially DeFeet’s small-batch U.S. made product program that would be cost prohibitive for a normal production run but made possible if it was 100% funded directly by consumers prior to production. A funding campaign will range from 2-4 weeks.

Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Items such as this pouch that has a special rubberized fabric in collaboration with Yanco, or the gorgeous and surprisingly comfy Woolie Boolie sock hand dyed with natural dyes from Wild Earth Textiles (top) are samples of what the program could bring while backed with DeFeet’s manufacturing knowhow.

They are considering raising their jacket project literally from the ashes, after the North Carolina factory was completely destroyed in a massive 2001 fire that required assistance from eleven fire departments from three counties.

Originally launched during PressCamp, DeFeet BeSpoke had some initial web issues but the program is back today with more items slated to go on the site soon. Get in there and up your sock game, among other things. www.DeFeetBeSpoke.com


Go under the radar with this Thule Covert DSLR backpack

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For me, the chase of finding the perfect camera bag is as difficult as finding freaking Nemo.

You see, over the years I pretty much have what some might call a collection of camera bags, and the collection is still growing. There are bags I use everyday (ThinkTank ShapeShifter, AirportSecurity), some are seldomly used (the good ol’ LowePro Stealth AW), and some, such as my giant Pelican 1650 where I bought solely to photograph the America’s Cup a few years ago, are essentially one hit wonders. There’s even a repurposed Timbuk2 messenger bag with inserts for small flashes and lenses when I need to go light and stealth.

All of those have been my “system” and they have worked for me for a variety of assignments from shooting the Super Bowl, wildfires, sitting in presidential campaign motorcades, CEOs, weddings, and bike races.

But, as if the N+1 rule extends to camera bags too, there’s always room for another one.

The struggle is so real that I now sympathize with my wife whenever she goes bag shopping. Okay, maybe not about the last part but you get my drift.

So here comes the Thule Covert camera backpack.

Better known for their extensive line of roof and bike racks, Thule has been making inroads into various products to help consumers bring whatever they want along, hence their motto of “Bring Your Life.” So out in the wild are Thule phone cases, luggage bags, strollers and backpacks.

On the outside, the Covert looks just like any other roll-top backpack that has been all the rage lately. It’s a pretty inconspicuous bag that doesn’t scream “HAVE CAMERA. ROB ME NOW.” Awesome.

From the top, the roll-top lid is neatly tucked away with adjustable buckles, and unrolling it will reveal the zipper to access the main compartment.

The main compartment can be divided into two with its removable partition that seals the top half of the bag from the lower half that houses the camera insert.

Halfway down the bag is a second flap that covers a generous zippered organizer for small items such as batteries and keys. There are also two Velcro pouches that I found to be perfect for storing external hard drive and charge for my Macbook Air.

As if there isn’t enough space, there is one more pouch on the lower half of the bag where I can comfortably store a u-lock or a Nalgene bottle. There’s also another zippered pocket behind the lower center pouch to carry more ClifBars.

So yes, lots of pockets for those who 1: Like to carry a lot of stuff and 2: like their bags to be organized.

On the right side of the bag is an open pouch with an adjustable opening that’s meant for bottles and a small travel tripod. Also good for beer.

Moving on to the left side of the bag, there are side-entry zippers to the laptop/tablet storage and the heart of the bag: the camera pod.

the SafeZone camera pod Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

While the idea of a removable camera compartment isn’t new, Thule deserves giant kudos for making the compartment right. Dubbed SafeZone, the pod’s dividers are some of the best I’ve ever come across. They’re denser than the ones from my other camera bags and cases. They also have origami-like ridges to facilitate folding for a customized fit.

I’ve been using the bag on and off for the past few months and it’s now my go to when I have to travel with my camera. During a recent wedding shoot in Mexico where I needed to divide up my gear for security, I was able to fit my essential kit (a Canon 1Dx Mark II, a 135mm f/2, a 50mm f/1.2 and a 24-70mm f/2.8) into the pod. The removable-nature of the pod also made going through custom inspections an easy one since I was able to just pull it all out at once. The partitioned top half of the backpack also meant the rest of the gear wouldn’t fall out of the side door if you go for the camera or remove the entire pod.

For short in-town trips, I could pack a 70-200 2.8 and a 24-70mm f/2.8 attached to Canon 5D Mark III straight into the compartment with room to spare. The carrying chassis of padded shoulder straps and the back panel are ergonomically shaped to stay comfortable. I do wish Thule included a waist strap for better stability though.

Maybe I am a sucker for a multifunctional backpack with an understated look, but the more I use the bag the more I actually enjoy using it. For me, the Covert hit the sweet spot of what I want in a travel camera backpack: Keeping my essential camera kit safe while leaving plenty of room for everything else. By removing the divider and the camera pod, the Covert can be quickly converted into a regular backpack for those last minute grocery runs. The water-resistant material and overall construction are good quality and it is well thought out from its pockets and dividers, all the way down its zippers. At $199.99 and a lifetime warranty, the Covert is made for the long haul and will carry all your gear, or lots of six-packs, with ease.

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Thule Covert next to a Canon 200-400 attached to a 1Dx Mark II

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Yup. I can shrove a Canon 200-400 f/4 with a 1Dx Mark II into the Covert. With the camera pod and divider removed, of course. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

 


Bikes, Bags, and Shades, the Latest and Greatest From Summer PressCamp

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Midweek editor's ride led by all-around good guy Eric Porter. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The behind of scene of every bike beauty shot. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Product demonstration area at White Lighting. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Koroyd engineering cores in various shapes and forms. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Gerard Vroomen of OPEN showing his ONE+ superlight hardtail (with plenty of room for 3" tires) Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Would love to see more company doing subtle paint details like OPEN. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Custom Pinarello logo on this Mavic spoke. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Filed under "cool stuff you cannot have" aka dual-sided Stages powermeter made for the US Olympic track pursuit team. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The gravel crew in the afternoon. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Start 'em young! Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Love them Alpinestar gloves. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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For 2017 GT is also bringing back that Performer BMX you wanted back in 1986. You know you want one. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

PressCamp in Park City is still one of my favorite events of the year. The laidback atmosphere, killer rides, that ride party at Eric Porter’s House, the daily doses of epic breakfast bacon, and of course plenty of fun new gear to talk about. Here are a few of the highlights from the week-long meetings. We will have more individual highlights/reviews in the pipeline.

Cannondale

The vaulted SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod will be available this fall with disc brakes. While the bike looks almost identical to the caliper brake version sans the brakes, the frame is brand new given that you just can’t slap a brake caliper mount to the frame mold and call it a day. The geometry is the same but the disc frame will have a different layup to accommodate different loads generated by disc brakes.

photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod disc with Ultegra Di2. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Even then, the weight penalty is minimal. Otherwise, the most noticeable differences are the utilization of the Flat Mount standard for the brake calipers, improved tire clearance up to 28C tires (the bike we were shown had 25C Schwalbe one tubeless clincher mounted to the Cannondale Hollogram carbon clinchers with a 19mm inner diameter), and the 12×100 thru-axle for the fork. What’s interesting, though, is that Cannondale kept the traditional 135×9 quick release for the rear wheel. The model we were shown, a SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod Carbon Disc with Ultegra, will retail for $6,200 and I expect more disc models at different price points will be available as well.

3T

Better known for their cockpit components such as stem, handlebar and seaports, the storied Italian component maker 3T carried a truck full of their new Exploro gravel road bikes and they did not disappoint. In fact, they were so good they would have easily won the best of camp if there was one.

3T Exlploro. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
3T Exlploro. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

The loaner I rode was mounted with 2.1×27.5 WTB Nano mountain bike knobbies (and it’s compatible with 700c for road and cross) and it blew me away in terms of how playful the bike was over the rocky dry terrain at Park City. Oh, and it’s an aero gravel bike designed with bottles, fat tires and mud in mind that 3T went as far as 3D printed mud for testing.

THM Calavicula SE crankset. Bling. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
THM Calavicula SE crankset. Bling. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
3T. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Now, at $4,200 for the top of the line LTD frameset, the Exploro will definitely take up a good amount of your hard-earned moola but it’s one hell of a super gravel bike if you can only have one to do it all.

Fabric

It’s only been a short time since Fabric came to the US market and they have yet to disappoint with their ingenuity. New for 2017 are their lineup lights. In particular, the $39 R30 rear light.

New Illumination offerings from Fabric. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
New Illumination offerings from Fabric. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Thirty lumens LED strip capable of running in 4 different modes off a USB rechargeable lithium battery rated for 8-9 hours depending on running mode, all housed inside a IPX5 water resistant outer case. Beneath the hood, Fabric added an accelerometer so the light will automatically glow brighter when the user brakes to slow down, just like the taillights on a car.

Ryders Eyewear

I must admit I am not familiar with Canadian sunglasses maker
Ryders Eyewear despite seeing their products at different places over the years. Sales of sports sunglasses is one tough competitive market but Ryders seems to have a lot of good technology neatly integrated across the board from their entry level model all the way to the no holds barred models.

(L-R) Aero, Seventh and Incline by Ryders Eyewear. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
(L-R) Aero, Seventh and Incline by Ryders Eyewear. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

A few details that caught my attention: Grilamid TR90 materials on all their non-metal frames that is super flexible. We tried to pull apart a frame without success, yet it was able to retain its shape after our post-presentation abuse. Second, integrated anti-fog in the back of the lens and hydrophobic coating in front to shed water. No more aftermarket mods!

Blue

Typically better known in the time-trial/triathlon scene but at PressCamp, however, Blue showed up with a slew of new additions to their 2017 line up and the Prosecco EX Carbon gravel bike is possibly one of the best value bikes from PressCamp. For $2,699, you’ll get a full carbon frame, hydraulic brakes AND Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic grouppo. Also cool is the slippery looking Leigh carbon track bike, race ready straight out of the box.

Blue Prosecco EX carbon Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Prosecco EX carbon Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Lehigh track bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Blue Lehigh track bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

GT

GT Pantera: Seems like brands are putting more focus on introductory/middle tier models this year at PressCamp and for that reason, GT reintroduced the Pantera back into their 2017 mountain bike lineup. Only this time with a sturdy new aluminum t6 frame, a competitive spec and most importantly 27.5+ wheels for comfort, maneuverability, and fun factor for the price ($1620 for the top of the line Expert model). It’s a very playful bike and I think it’ll be a hit next year.

GT Pantera Expert. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Pinarello

Pinarello is now in the gravel market with the addition of the GAN GR and GRs, with the latter equipped with a elastomer rear suspension delivering 10mm of travel similar to the absorber found on their Paris-Roubaix proven K8-S machine. Both models are disc only and heavily features design cues from their top of the line F8 road frame, but with ample tire clearance and fender mounts as well as a lower price point ($2850 with Shimano 105 and $5250 with Shimano Ultegra.)

Pinarello GAN GRS gravel bike. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Pinarello GAN GRS gravel bike disc with Shimano 105. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Elastomer suspension with 10mm of travel to soak up the road chatters. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Elastomer suspension with 10mm of travel to soak up the road chatters. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Thule

Many associate Thule with being the brand that makes racks and accessories for your car but the Swedish company is much much more than just a one trick pony. Thule has developed products such as rugged phone cases, and luggage bags. What caught my attention was the Covert Camera Bag: a rolltop-style backpack that’s been the rage lately but the dedicated camera compartment had some of the nicest inserts I’ve seen. We will be reviewing one very soon so stay tuned for updates!

Thule Covert camera backpack Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Thule Covert camera backpack Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Nicely padded inserts for the camera compartment. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
Nicely padded inserts for the camera compartment. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Smith

Smith, being the first to incorporate the novelty Koroyd material into bicycle helmets, is back with two new affordable helmets (with Koroyd, of course) called the Rover (for MTB) and Route (for road.) While the original Overtake and Forefront helmets saw a full wrap of koroyd around the helmet, it drove the price of the helmet.

(L-R) Smith Route and Rover helmets. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly
(L-R) Smith Route and Rover helmets. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

For the Rover and Route, Smith was able to strategically place Koroyd panels in the areas where it would likely see impact, thus lowering the price point. I know the last few sentences were full of Koroyd. I, in fact, was treated to an interesting presentation directly from Koroyd, 45 minutes on a single material backed by data, Surprisingly, though, it was also one of the more memorable, and convicing presentations during the week that would make you want to wear nothing but Koroyd gear. It’s that good.

Ridley

Ahh, the slippery fast Noah SL, now better with disc. We tested a caliper brake version of the Noah SL a while back and had a great time with it. For the Noah SL Disc, Ridley designers went back to added thru-axle front and rear for security and stiffness. Ridley’s split aero fork remains and we expect the bike to be even more capable than its caliper brake brethren.

Ridley Noah SL Disc. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Ellsworth

Six month is a long time in the bike biz and Ellsworth is back at Summer PressCamp with a new owner and a spiffy looking Rogue Sixty enduro machine with 160mm of rear travel. The iconic ICT suspension remains but founder Tony Ellsworth incorporated a 420mm short chain-stay, mil-spec dual row bearings, slack geometry, and hex taper-axles that should translate this carbon-framed bike into one sweet tight berm riding machine.

Ellsworth Rogue Sixty in orange and black Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

The CamelBak Quick Stow Flask Quenches Our Thirst For a Reliable Bottle

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Insulated (top) and regular (bottom) CamelBak Quick Stow flask. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

CamelBak Quick Stow flask

The CamelBak Quick Stow Flask, folded. Photo: Stephen Lam/Element.ly

At last year’s PressCamp, I got so many water bottles that I ran out of space in my luggage. So while packing for this year’s PressCamp, I thought I could get away with not bringing any. Well, day one and there’s no bottles in sight. Joke’s on me now.

But, perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. Seth from CamelBak came to the rescue and I ended up with two of their new Quick Stow flasks for my gravel ride.

Let’s be clear: Soft bottles aren’t a new “thing.” They’ve been around the market for quite sometime. What CamelBak did with the Quick Stow, however, was incorporate their technical know-hows to improve upon a soft bottle.

At first glance, the existing CamelBak hydration pack user will feel instantly at home given that the water bottle uses the same blue polyurethane material (BPA and BPS free in case you’re curious) from their hydration reservoir. For the cap, CamelBak designers incorporated the design cues from their podium bottle, plus a self-sealing silicone bite valve similar to the ones found on the hydration packs. There’s also a lockout switch to prevent leaks during transport.

I was given both the normal ($20) and the insulated version ($28) and both worked very nicely. The cap was easy to thread on/off with an opening large enough for ice cubes and drink powders (whisky anyone?). And it never leaked. The textured surface also gave it a nice grip while I was sweating under the Utah sun.

The Quick Stow holds 17oz of fluid, a bit less than your standard water bottle but overall that’s not a huge deal. It’s wonderful for short rides, or longer rides where you want to carry a bit more fluids without the clumsiness/real estate issue of a hard bottle. Its small footprint also allows one to stow it inside the pocket of say, a Specialized SWAT liner bib … plus it’s great for traveling.

Now, the insulated version works the same way but with the addition of an insulation wrap that will keep your drink cold for about twice as long as its non-insulated brethren. After a few rides with both, I found myself liking the non-insulated version as it was packed down smaller and was slightly easier to squeeze given the single wall design over the double-walled insulated version. Alas, that’s just a personal preference.

Available this October.


The 7 Coolest Products From Winter PressCamp 2016

Elemently_WPC

Finishing our Ellsworth photo shoot. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Elemently_WPC

Thank you for your service, mannequin head #1. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

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No, this ain't no motorcycle. It's the drivetrain for the Haibike XDURO Downhill Pro. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Elemently_WPC

eDH bike Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Elemently_WPC

Product explanation at Winter Press Camp. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Elemently_WPC

Lazer AeroShell deployment. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Elemently_WPC

Vintage Raleigh racing jersey by Giordana. This one's not for sale but sure looked great. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Elemently_WPC

See those horizontal lines? That's compression fabric on the Giordana NXG bib shorts. Detail matters. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Elemently_WPC

Yo. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Elemently_WPC

Ridley beer steins. Works great. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

The 2016 winter PressCamp wrapped up recently and there’s a lot to talk about. Here are my personal highlights in no particular order.

Haibike

Love this Haibike FatSix RX. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
Love this Haibike FatSix RX. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

I have to admit that I once thought Haibike was a brand out of Asia (and there’s absolutely no shame of being an Asian brand, just ask Samsung). Haibike is actually German and has been around since 1995. “Hai” means shark in German and their eBikes are catered to the performance-oriented crowd. In 2016, they’re offering 55, yes, 55 eBikes from their SDURO and XDURO line equipped with either a Bosch or a Yamaha motor. “Your dealers must hate you,” an editor jokes.

Jokes aside, I’ll say this: Haibike makes beautiful ebikes. The XDURO FatSix RX fat bike might just be the ultimate do-it-all SUV on two wheels that I’ve been waiting for.

Giordana

Discussion about them chamois. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
Discussion about them chamois. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

I can talk all day about all the nuisances of fabrics technology that goes behind a jersey (for example, it takes six separate pieces of fabric to construct the collar of the body-hugging NX-G jersey). But Giordana‘s EXO line stood out to me. Summer weight knickers with compression designed in conjunction with the legendary Dr. Max Testa? Sounds perfect for that typical San Francisco “summer.” We’re currently testing one and will report back soon.

Also love their sport jersey made with a blend of merino wool too. A slightly more relaxed fit, soft to the touch and clean, understated color wise. Sign me up.

Ellsworth

The Ellsworth Epiphany in red, 27.5 hoops and carbon fiber. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
The Ellsworth Epiphany in red, 27.5 hoops and carbon fiber. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Ellsworth is back. With BST Nano Carbon being its new owner and after a redesign, gone are the massive rocker links Ellsworth was known for. But founder Tony Ellsworth is excited to show us that the soul Ellsworth remains unchanged. Legacy models such as the MomentDare, and Epiphany are now offered in carbon fiber and boost 142×12 rear with a hex-shaped axle end for stiffness. Thankfully the bottom bracket is still english-threaded.

The Epiphany, being Ellsworth’s bestselling model, will also offer a USA made, alloyed-frame version with a shot-peened finish both inside and outside the tube. You now have three different wheel options to choose from (27.5, 27.5+ and 29). While you’re at it make sure to check out their 4-layered paint job, especially in red.

Abus

The Abus head model hard at work showing off the Hyban helmet. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
The Abus head model hard at work showing off the Hyban helmet. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

Founded in 1924, Abus sure knows a thing or two when it comes to locks. Products such as the Bordo have been a hit and now Abus is finally bringing their helmets to the states. The Hyban helmet will have a rear taillight and a storable rain cover for those unexpected showers while the magnetic Fidlock buckle clips securely into place with the quick flip of a finger. Pretty neat stuff. I am sure you can race with it too with all those vents atop.

Divo

Being a former Giro and Vuelta stage winner is pretty darn special and Divo Bike founder Pietro Caucchioli is one of those guys. Here he's holding a special Divo ST dusted with real gold bounded for Los Angeles boutique Twohubs Cycling. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
Being a former Giro and Vuelta stage winner is pretty darn special and Divo Bike founder Pietro Caucchioli is one of those guys. Here he’s holding a special Divo ST dusted with real gold bounded for Los Angeles boutique Twohubs Cycling. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

It’s a bold, confident move when your entire line up consists of only one model and that’s exactly what former Giro D’Italia and Vuelta winner Pietro Caucchioli is doing here. Just one bike, the do it all ST. Though Divo offers only one model, it’d be hard to find two identical Divo ST given the robust Divo customization program ranging from frame color, decals, carbon finish, and custom geometry too. Now that’s custom for realz.

Lazer

That little black box is the Lazer LifeBEAM. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
That little black box is the Lazer LifeBEAM. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

For Lazer, helmet integration is (literally) the name of the game: Add an AeroShell for aerodynamics and warmth; a LifeBEAM sensor to measure your heart rate like a fighter pilot, and a pair of Magneto sunglasses that’ll snap onto your helmet strap, or the back of your helmet via magnets. Don’t like it? You can always shake take it off.

Added bonus: An inclination sensor to your Lazer time trial helmet to gently remind you during your ride/race that the helmet is within the optimal aero position.

Ridley

The Ridley Noah: Aero bike we can afford. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly
The Ridley Noah: Aero bike we can afford. Photo: Stephen Lam/ Element.ly

We love super bikes, but honestly how many of us mere mortals can afford dropping all that money on a bicycle that costs as much as a decent motorcycle every few years? Well here comes the Ridley Noah. It’s essentially a Noah SL (same mould, actually) but with a different carbon layup and a traditional fork compared to the more expensive F-Split fork to keep the price more affordable ($3,750 for a Ultegra-equipped bike) while staying aero.