RIDE Paraphernalia of the year – Toby’s 2012 picks
One thing I love about the end of the year is the many and diverse ‘favourite lists’ that are published. Top albums, Christmas hamper recommendations, best Tour stage win, funniest movie, favourite Wiggle… I love them all in equal measure. Not only because it gives me a chance to reflect on a year gone by, but often these lists give me the required inspiration to buy my nearest and dearest riding friends a gift.
Just like most of the population my Christmas gift-list has dollar limits, so when selecting my favourite products that have appeared in the pages of RIDE this year I have tried to limit myself…Well maybe tried to limit myself would be a better way to put it! I started trying to think of the best under $200, but after a few minutes I thought “nah” there is too much good stuff to ignore…
Without further adieu here are my personal favourite products from 2012. – Toby
Fi’zi:k Arione 00 (RIDE #58)
I am of the opinion that when you find a saddle you like, you stick to it. However, when something as good as the Arione 00 comes along it’s worth considering switching.
As a ‘classic’ Arione user I had a good idea what to expect when first trying this saddle. However with a tweaked design that includes a flatter rear section and better flex this new Arione is an improvement that makes it a winner.
With an average saddle you’ll spend time thinking about it when you are out riding, but a saddle like this one you’ll get back from a ride and not have single memory of how it felt! And that is a good thing…
Apart from the way it performs I have to mention the high quality finish on this product. From the weave on the carbon rails to the taught fabric it gives the impression of something that has been crafted with care and attention to detail. After only a few weeks of use its too early to tell how it will wear in the long term, but over the Christmas holidays I intend on putting some serious kilometers on it to find out…
Weight: 137g Cost: $489
Distrbutor: Sola Sport 02 9550 1655
Bonk Breaker (RIDE #57)
I grew up watching US sit-coms where the kids always seemed to be eating either baloney or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. So when a box of ‘Bonk Breaker’ bars arrived containing ‘Apple Pie’ and ‘Peanut Butter Jelly’ versions I couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic for my TV watching youth.
Whilst these might seem odd combinations at first, the fact is they taste great. With no egg or milk products these bars are a good choice for those who are sensitive about what they eat when on the bike. Not too dry and with a smaller than average portion size (your pockets will thank you), these are a favourite that have sustained me through many a sufferfest this year.
Weight: 28g (each) Cost: $28 (six pack)
Distributor: FE Sports 1300 790 212
GT 85 (RIDE #57)
Cleaning your dirty greasy drivetrain has to be one of the worst jobs around, hence the reason that professionals get someone else to do it. Most of us don’t have that luxury so when a product like GT85 comes along I’m hooked. Spray this stuff on your disgusting drivetrain, give it a good rub and like magic the gunk comes off but a nice coating of PTFE (lubricant) is left behind.
After a can of this stuff arrived for review the RIDE team was quickly addicted to the smell of it… so I recommend using it in a well ventilated area.
Bad news is, it’s not exactly the easiest stuff to find and the local distributor had trouble freighting a can from WA to us, mainly as its pressurised and highly flammable.
So if you do find some, please send us a new can… ours has run out.
Size: 400ml Cost: $19
Distributor: GT 85 Australia 0437 268 950
Trek Madone 7 Series (RIDE #57)
When Trek Australia lent us a pair of matching 2013 Madone 7.9 bikes for the day, before their launch locally to dealers and press, I knew there must be a good reason… Simply they knew how good this latest version is and couldn’t keep it to themselves any longer!
The new Madone redefines what a modern race bike can be. Both lightweight and designed to minimise aerodynamic drag, the Madone 7 Series doesn’t give up any of the joyous ride quality of previous incarnations to achieve its new objectives.
If you can get past the fact that the rear brake is in a different position to the norm (under the bottom bracket), you will quickly appreciate the ‘naked’ rear stays and the fact that braking performance is unchanged. Stiff but not dead feeling, smooth, lively and above all fun, the new Madone gives me hope that the major players in this industry are truly full of people who go to work everyday with the goal of making the best bikes possible.
Get to a Trek ‘demo day’ and find out for yourself
Weight: N/A Cost: $13,499
Distributor: Trek Australia
Butter B1 (RIDE #58)
One of the great things about getting older is that you start to collect decent quality tools, rather than just those cheap and nasty ones you used to buy at Bunnings.
This year I have added a Bahco socket set, Effetto torque wrench and a b1 chain keeper to my personal tool collection. Like most expensive tools the b1 does pretty much the same job as an item costing half as much, but when you use a tool everyday you take pleasure from the longevity and superior design of a professional level tool.
Clamping into place on the rear dropout easily via an oversized dial and operating with a smooth action, thanks to some trick plastic where the chain runs over it, the b1 improves on an item that a professional bike mechanic uses when cleaning a bike’s drivetrain or when transporting.
RIDE loves supporting small builders and designers and ‘warebutter.com’ is another great example of what makes the bicycle industry so diverse and interesting.
Weight: 122g Cost: $45
Rapha Pro Team socks (RIDE #56)
Four hundred or more products through the pages of RIDE this year and I choose a pair of socks as one of the best!? Yes they are that good.
As riders we all own a lot of socks and for some reason we talk about them a lot as well. Sock height and colour have to be two of the most hotly debated topics in Australian cycling bunches… “On the left side we have the mid-calf length black sock champion of 2012, and on my right we have the low-sock…” It’s no wonder most of the population thinks we are crazy!
Regardless of your thoughts on the topic, these socks sit at pretty much the ideal mid-point to ensure both the high and low(er) sock brigades are happy. I own about a half-dozen pairs and when those are worn out I will be back for more… They also come in black if that is your preference.
BH Ultralight (RIDE #56)
Undoubtedly one of the best things about working at a cycling magazine is that I get to ride a number of great bikes a year. Often I am tempted to put down up hard earned cash to buy one, but most of the time I resist the temptation, knowing that something even more enticing will roll in the door within a few days.
Unlike what many people might think, we don’t accept freebies nor do we keep bikes that we review or receive any form of payment for the reviews. We review bikes we think are interesting, that we think are capable of exciting us and our readers.
So with all this in mind, when my riding partner and co-worker Greg Chalberg pulled his credit card out its holster about two days into reviewing the BH Ultralight, I knew it had to be something special. At the time Greg was riding a titanium frame that really seemed to suit him and the way he riders, but the Ultralight somehow makes that one look like something from the 60’s.
I really dig what BH are doing with their bikes at the moment, and meeting their head of R&D recently at Eurobike confirmed this feeling even more. By blending a heritage of producing bikes for climbing in the mountains (think lightweight and quick handling) with modern design and lightweight carbon engineering they have brought something both refreshing and appealing to the market.
I’m looking forward to RIDE reviewing another BH bike soon, and I know I won’t have to wait long.
Weight: 757g (frame only size 54) Cost: $2,999
Distributor: BH Australia 02 45601200
Hincapie Power GT bib-shorts (RIDE #58)
Bib shorts and saddles are two of the most personal items a cyclist will own (closely followed by shoes). What one person thinks is the greatest fit around, another might find average at best. The new range of Hincapie gear combines some practical touches (such as the reflective ‘Hyperoptic Elastane’ fabric) with a look and feel that shouts, “high performance”.
This range shows there is more to big George than the recent headlines, and with his retirement after this years Tour I would expect the great man putting more of his famous energy into this family owned and managed company.
The Power GT bibs sit at the top of the local range, with a generous length towards the knee and a thick fabric ‘gripper’ at the bottom of each leg these items are comfortable for long rides and look good with a range of different jerseys.
Distributor: FE Sports 1300 790 212
SRAM Red (Issue #56)
I was a big fan of the original SRAM Red when it was introduced, but with every new groupset that was released since its arrival Red started to feel less special. The machine gun front shifting, the noisy cassette and flexy chainrings stood out previously, but the new version has addressed all these gripes as well as improving weight, style and functionality at the same time.
There are many wonderful details on this group, from the brakes which maintain their powerful confidence inspiring action, to the crank which seems to look just perfect on any frame.
SRAM Red shows that mechanical shifting is far from dead, and offers a true high performance alternative for those looking for the lightest, and for me best looking group currently for sale.
Weight: 1759g Price: $2640
Specialized S-Works road shoes (RIDE #57)
My wife often refers to me as ‘Imelda Marcos’, and it’s not because I embezzled billions of dollars from my own government. Yes, I own a lot of cycling shoes but there is a good reason for it… and as soon as I work it out I will let you (and her) know.
My favourite riding shoes were custom made to the exact shape of my foot, and cost as much as some complete road bikes. For normal people this sort of purchase is not an option, so these S-works are probably the next best option. Yes they are lighter, stiffer and ‘blinger’ than before but the best thing about them is one tiny detail. The BOA dials now go both ways, rather than releasing with a pull, which means you can micro-adjust them tighter or looser on ‘the fly’. This results in a fit that can be dialed in perfectly (you see what I did there?).
I was lucky enough to ride these shoes for a few days in Utah in the middle of this year, some six months before they became available in the local market and I fell in love with them, but please don’t tell my wife. They are onsale now and you willl find a pair in the next issue of RIDE Cycling Review, onsale Feb 2013.
Weight: TBC Price: TBC
Happy holiday season to everyone!
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