As many of you know, I get in a fair amount of stuff to review on Riding Gravel and sometimes just to give feedback on/test for others. I figured I may as well shoot a few words this way on some things being currently tested and reviewed by giving a few, brief thoughts on those items. As always, The Standard Disclaimer applies.
This was some handlebar tape I threw into an order from Jenson USA on a whim to boost my cart into the free shipping category. I had zero expectations for this tape and was just curious to see how it might do.
I have been a fan of older models of fizik bar tape in the past, so I was curious to see if there were any current fizik offerings that I may like. Turns out that the Vento Microtex Tacky bartape is right up my alley.
Typical to my experiences with previous fizik tapes, this stuff wraps well and is actually a thinner tape than what I am used to using from fizik. It reminds me of butyl inner tube rubber, but in a better, more refined way, and it has a similar feel to an innertube tape job, (Yes - I have done this before!) The way it layers is a bit more abrupt in that you feel the edges of this tape where it overlaps. That feels like extra grip to me but if that thought bothers you and you like smoother transitions to your tape job then this isn't for you.
It lives up to the "tacky" name too. VERY grippy tape here! I am super-curious to see how it handles sweaty hands, but with this rash of cooler weather we've had I don't know the answer to that question yet. I do know that gloved hands will find copious amounts of grip with this tape. Good stuff from fizik!
Redshift Sports Arclight Pro Pedals:
I've been riding these for a couple of months now and they have been really nice to have around. These are flat pedals with a couple of tricks up its sleeves.
First of all, they are modular in design. So, you have a lot of options in how to configure the Arclights. Secondly, they have a safety feature in that they have a "Smart LED" design which you can make use of, or take off the pedals as you wish.
So, there is a lot going on here. I'll stick to how I've been using these, but keep in mind, these can be configured in several ways. I decided to keep the "wings" on to make use of a larger platform, but in the future I may pare these down to being just typical clipless pedals for a bit. I removed one side of the clipless feature to get a dual-purpose pedal. One side I have installed the pins on for street-shoe usage and the clipless module is on the other side making these compatible with my cycling shoes as well.
The image above here shows the LED modules in place which are held in by powerful neodymium magnets. The lights are activated by depressing a button on each module and you can select from steady or flashing patterns. The LED lights will automatically go red if facing rearward and white if facing forward. I don't know how, but it works. And at night these put on a light show that is amazing! If you get hit while using these it is because the driver was distracted or blind.
You can also see here how the pedal looks without the light modules in place. I removed the modules during a ride which is super-easy and does not require any tools. The light modules come with a four bay charger so you can get the pedals ready to put on the light craziness at night a little more quickly than if you had to charge them one at a time.
The bearings are fantastically smooth in these pedals as well. I have had no complaints whatsoever with them. They are really easy to use, clip in and out of (The tension is adjustable much like a Shimano SPD) and the light show factor is definitely commuter friendly. I'll have more to say about these later on, but so far, I am very impressed.
Enduro "Max-Hit" Bottom Bracket:
Bottom bracket bearings might just be the most abused bearings in a bicycle. And of course, without them you are going nowhere fast. But c'mon! A lifetime bottom bracket guarantee?
That's exactly what it says on the Max-Hit bottom bracket page on Enduro's site. They are pretty confident that this design will last and last and last.
One of the unique things about this particular bottom bracket in the Max-Hit range is that there is no separate "cup" and a cartridge bearing pressed into that. The part you put the wrench to while installing it is the outer bearing race, not just a carrier for the cartridge bearing, as with most other outboard bearing bottom brackets out there.
This allows Enduro to use bigger bearings and get more contact area on the races than would be possible with a more traditional design. Does this make any sense? I mean, is it actually doing anything for the rider? Enduro says it saves watts and that it makes the bottom bracket feel smoother too. Ahhhh....okay, let's see.
And there is something going on with all of this. Maybe it is just me, but have you ever put the wood to a crank that is spinning a traditional Shimano outboard bottom bracket bearing and felt a "rumbly-vibration-like" thing on down strokes? I have. Even on brand new Shimano bottom brackets. Of course, it gets worse with age and wear, but for me, Shimano outboard bearing BB's have always done this. The Enduro one? Nope. Nothing at all like that. Smooth.
Huh! Well, it will take some time, but I'll keep grinding and see if this thing lives up to its billing.
Teravail Coronado 29" X 2.8" Tires:
These "plus-sized" 29"er tires were my choice for the Singular Cycles Gryphon Mk3 bike and I have sure been impressed with these tires so far. I got the "Light and Supple" tan walled versions and they look and ride great.
I have been running these at sub-20 psi all along and they have had a great combination of smoothness, lower rolling resistance, and air retention. I'm running WTB sealant in these, by the way for reference.
Grip level on dirt is subjective and varies according to terrain types, but so far I cannot complain. You can see the type of dried up, dirt single track we have here in the accompanying image. The Coronado grips this very well.
The tires absorb embedded roots and rocks like a champ too, so you get a bit of cush out of all that volume but they still roll quite nicely due to their somewhat lighter weight. On gravel they are amazingly smooth, but yeah, they'd better be with all that tire volume!
Many tires in this size range are really off-road specific to the point that their versatility is limited, but in my opinion the Coronado strikes a great balance between off-road traction and low rolling resistance on harder surfaces. Plus the "Light and Supple" tag is largely truth here, not just marketing hype.
We will have to wait to see how they wear, but for now I am a happy camper with this purchase. (Yes, these and the bar tape were purchased by me with my own damn money, so there!)
Stay tuned for more "Review Briefs" in the future.