Presenting round two of our new online product post – “Friday Favourites”. Last week we picked products from Oakley, Kinetic, Shimano and Pro from the popular Paraphernalia pages of issues past and present. This time we have a look at items from Polar (to feature in RIDE #68), Specialized (RIDE #67), and Giro (RIDE #67), as well as have a look at Romain Bardet’s Focus frame for wireless shifting…
How exciting is it to see Polar return to relevance in RIDE’s paraphernalia pages!? Anyone who rode bikes prior to the mid 2000s would instantly recognise the Finnish brand.
There has been a serious decline in Polar’s popularity in the cycling scene since the lofty heights it reached at the turn of this century. Most (if not all), of these lost sales can be attributed its products’ lack of GPS integration. With the V650, Polar is back in the game as it is a GPS unit with all the trimmings.
The bright 2.8” touch screen operates as well as the best competitor and there are some interesting graphs and data which are displayed in slightly alternative and interesting ways. Utilising Bluetooth Smart technology and shunning ANT+ may seem like a risk but there are plenty of Bluetooth compatible power meters out there including Polar’s collaboration with Look.
This unit is only going to improve with many firmware updates coming on the near horizon including Strava syncing, smart phone updates, power meter compatibility, and even ride maps – you can buy this unit with the knowledge that it will only improve.
It’s so cool to see Polar back on my bike! I love that it’s got a small LED on the front so I don’t have to fit a light on the front if it is a ‘borderline’ day. There are plenty of different screen custom options so I was able to set it up how I like it – which I guess is a prerequisite now for any computer worth using.
I was a little disappointed with the lack of air temperature display but everything else was great. The HR never dropped out during testing and the battery on the head unit lasts ages!
One reason I loved Polar was for its training diary software and Polar Flow seems to be pretty good for those not addicted to Strava. It is almost too easy to use as rides are automatically synced through a phone or computer.
I’m glad that Polar’s new V650 has been done properly and hope to see it on many bikes soon! – Jack
Cost: $400 (no HR strap), $450 (incl. HR strap) Weight: 120g (unit), 13g (mount), 48g (HR strap)
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Giro Air Attack Shield
The Air Attack Shield has finally been granted approval to Australian standards and is now in stock. This ‘matte black camo’ suits the overall aesthetic – it actually looks like a helmet that could take a few rounds from heavy artillery. There are a few different colours to choose from which should appease most shoppers. As always, the Carl Zeiss vision shield takes a while to get used to but is said to lead to aerodynamic improvement.
A distinct lack of aeration should not present an issue as winter approaches but we wait with bated breath for the Giro Synthe’s Australian release. The Air Attack Shield is tremendous value for someone who wants to wear one helmet for road racing and time trials. It also looks pretty cool and will be a talking point in the bunch.
WEIGHT: 324g (helmet), 35g (visor) Cost: $340
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Specialized Rib Cage II with Tool
This is a good one; a bidon cage with a seven piece multi-tool built in. It’s a little bit like Steve Kerrigan’s ‘brush with a hose in it’ – no wonder they called him the ‘Ideas Man’… but Specialized’s innovation means that you will be prepared for most on-road mechanical misadventures. It’s much heavier and undeniably more odd looking than your run-of-the-mill bottle carrier but well worth the convenience. The multi-tool’s holster can be removed when you want to shed some grams or look a bit less daggy which makes this cage-cum-toolbox a winner for any occasion.
Weight: 109g Cost: $80
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Romain Bardet’s wireless Focus set-up
AG2R La Mondiale is the only team in the WorldTour using SRAM shifting in 2015 and, as we reported in January, it has been using a prototype of a new wireless shifting system that is expected to come to market… ah, when it’s ready for the market. At the Giro del Trentino this week, at least three from the French team have been sighted using the wireless shifters – Romain Bardet, Jean-Christophe Peraud and the winner of stage three, Dominico Pozzovivo.
Focus is the team’s frame supplier and there are two iterations of the Izalco Max frame: one with cable guides, one with small ports on the left side of the frame for use with Di2 – or plugged when using SRAM’s yet-to-be-released wireless ensemble. The photo of Bardet (below) offers a hint of how bikes of the future are likely to look: cables for braking alone…
Note: Pozzovivo’s bike does have (unused) cable guide on the right side of the down tube but he requires a particularly small frame… and perhaps the electronic shifting version isn’t available in his size.
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