Weekly Reviews Roundup #15

Never mind the quantity, feel the quality. This episode of our fairly regular compendium of interesting reviews features Northwave bibs, Craft vest, Rockshox Pike, Smith helmet, Campag Athena gruppo and more.

18431_northwave_sonic_cycling_bibshortsNorthwave Sonic bib shorts – Road.cc

Read the review | Buy it here

“Breathability is good for typical UK summer warmth, less so when the temperature starts to soar into the high 20s (soon please?), and pairing with legwarmers makes for an effective early morning and spring/autumn outfit. The Sonics are a well priced, good looking set of bibs that will do you well for shorter rides. Well designed, good value choice for commuting or club runs.”


17757_craft_featherlight_cycling_vestCraft Featherlite Vest – Road.cc

Read the review | Buy it here

“When packed down the vest is about the size of a tennis ball so will fit into the rear pocket of a jersey with plenty of room to spare. Reflective print and piping add extra visibility both front and rear. Very lightweight gilet that offers good upper body protection from cool air.”


13182_rockshox_pike_rct3_forks_27_5_2014Rockshox Pike RCT3 – Dirt

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“The Rockshox Pike is a prodigious piece of engineering and it’s one of the most reliable forks on the market. It’s the simpler RCT3 fork that’s our favourite over the Dual Position Air version. A quick scan on the internet reveals you can readily get a Rockshox Pike RTC3 for nearly half the price of a Fox 36 but it is certainly not half the performance, in fact it’s pretty close, and what the Pike has proven time and time again is supreme reliability. And that’s what most riders want.”


15621_smith_forefront_mountain_biking_helmet_blackSmith Forefront helmet – BikeRumor

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“Closer inspection revealed what was likely a much more violent, rolling impact than my lack of injuries suggested. The outer shell shows a few impacts including a flattened rear deck, and more concerning – a mushroomed dimple on the lowest part of the rear of the helmet. When you hear companies extolling the virtues of lower coverage at the back of the head, this is exactly why. Without that dip behind the temple, whatever smacked into the back of my helmet probably would have caused some serious damage.”


17604_campagnolo_athena_carbon_groupset_2015Campagnolo Athena groupset – Cyclist

Read the review | Buy it here

“It’s hard not to feel a certain fondness for Campagnolo – performance is charmingly unobtrusive, and on certain frames, say a classic steel Colnago, it really would be sacrilege to spec anything other than an Italian drivetrain. There’s more at play here than romance, though, and performance is absolutely comparable to SRAM and Shimano, with ergonomics a particular strong point. The shifters, for instance, might feel different at first, but by the time you’re out into the lanes, you’ll have become accustomed to the curve of the brake levers and begun to enjoy the easy opposing thumb and forefinger shifting up and down the block.”


17513_castelli_aero_race_5_0_cycling_jerseyCastelli Aero Race 50 jersey – Cyclist

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“Out on the bike and the Aero Race 5.0 is comfortable to wear and thanks to the super lightweight material, wicks sweat away from the body well. Castelli say it’s 12 watts faster than a standard jersey but it’s impossible for us to test this. One thing we can say is that it makes you feel fast, but forget about the numbers and just admit that you feel fast because, like all Italian things, it just makes you feel awesome. Until the electrics fail.”


20121_giro_empire_road_cycling_shoeGiro Empire – Cyclist

Read the review | Buy it here

“I must confess I’ve coveted the Giro Empires ever since I saw Taylor Phinney wearing them a few years ago.  Laces bring a timeless style that reminds me of those classic Adidas-Merckx specials from years ago, and if they’re good enough for footballers then they’ll be good enough for me. The lace material is strong meaning it doesn’t stretch, so you don’t have to worry about them slowly going slack over the course of a ride. I’ve done some pretty hard efforts in them and the Empires have stayed as tight as when I laced them up.”


15894_shimano_105_5800_11_speed_groupset_blackShimano 105 groupset – Cyclist

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“You could save weight over 105, but for the price, it’s hard to see how Shimano could produce anything better than this. It changes gear, transfers power and slows you down brilliantly, and while ongoing maintenance costs are more than previous versions (mostly cables – chain longevity seems about the same) it’s still a bargain. Frankly, we’d struggle to justify paying more for a mechanical groupset.”


19545_enve_m60_forty_gen_2_carbon_27_5_rim_handbuilt_wheelENVE Chris King custom built wheelset – Dirt

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“The Chris King/Enve Custom is an expensive wheel build and in some ways you should be asking yourself if you really do need the performance benefits that such a wheel offers, or if you might actually be better off with an aluminium rim that offers a slightly softer ride quality. But for directness, impeccably precise steering that in itself requires accurate riding skills and for second-shaving, particularly in a race environment, here is a very special wheelset.”


10460_rock_shox_reverb_stealth_seatpostRockShox Reverb Stealth seat post – Dirt

Read the review | Buy it here

“The Rockshox Reverb Stealth is the benchmark. The Reverb would appear to be the simplest product of all to write about yet it seems the most difficult, maybe because it is so prolific, so priceless. Overall it really is a truly brilliant product. The Rockshox Reverb Stealth is the best and doesn’t even need to get out of its seat when presented with competition.”

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