First look: A sneak peek at upcoming tests

Products from Küat, RAR, Williams Cycling, Giordana, Scott and Lazer Helmets

New Küat NV hitch rack comes loaded with features

Relative car rack newcomer Küat may not have been on the scene for very long but its new hitch-mounted NV flagship comes loaded with an impressive list of features and some very clever design nonetheless.

Twin ratcheting arms and deep plastic-and-aluminum trays securely hold two bikes in place by their front wheels (thus requiring no wheel removal) while additional ratcheting straps at the other end keep the rear wheels from bouncing about. Spacing between the two bikes is fixed but a generous 33cm (13") between the trays and offset tilting should prevent most handlebar/saddle interference.

A quick-release handle allows the rack to tilt down for tailgate access or up when the rack isn't in use and in the latter position, there's also an adjustable-height repair stand built right into the main spar of the rack for trailside repairs and maintenance. Cable locks are neatly tucked away inside the trays, too, and a hand-tightened wedge keeps the 1 1/4" or 2" extension from rocking too much in the receiver.

Powdercoated alloy construction keeps the weight to a reasonable 20.4kg (45lb) and suggested retail price is US$495.

RAR Magnum road race wheels utilize lessons learned from testing data

RAR says five years of bench testing a wide range of wheels has been poured into the development of its new road racing range. Key features across the board include feathery hub weights (65g/182g front/rear) with the rear made by German component company Tune; 2:1 rear spoke lacing and an oversized driveside flange for more even tension; custom aluminum hubs with widely spaced adjustable-preload cartridge bearings and oversized alloy axles; and DT Swiss Aerolite spokes.

Our Magnum test pair ups the ante further with 430g 66mm-deep carbon tubular rims made by Reynolds and an impressive 1,303g total weight (579g front, 724g rear, without skewers). A clincher version is also available, adding 270g.

Other available models include the more climbing-specific Svelt (930g for tubular, 1,220g for clincher) with 32mm-deep all-carbon rims and the more all-purpose Optimal (1,020g for tubular, 1,325g for clincher) with 46mm-deep all-carbon rims. 27mm-deep alloy clincher rims are used on the 1,370g Tempo model.

Retail price for any of the three carbon models, tubular or clincher, is €2,149 for the pair, including a pair of feathery 45g titanium-shafted skewers, wheel bags, valve extenders and brake pads. The alloy Tempo is set at a more attainable €799. White or red spokes are available for €120-132 depending on wheel model.

Williams Cycling switches rim suppliers for 2010 Wheel System 58

Direct-to-consumer wheelhouse Williams Cycling has changed rim suppliers for the 2010 version of its Wheel System 58 carbon tubulars, moving from Zipp to Asian-made Carbotec. Why the change?

Company founder Keith Williams says he was, "at the point now that durability is more important than the lightest carbon wheels I can make," and that the increased weight (430g per rim vs. 397g) was worth the additional impact strength.

Carrying over from the previous edition are the lightweight alloy hubs with hybrid ceramic cartridge bearings, easily interchangeable alloy freehub bodies, and well-proven Pillar triple butted stainless steel spokes with brass nipples. Williams says that he has also switched bearing suppliers this year as well so quality and durability have improved in that area, too.

Our test set is still fairly light at 1,476g for the pair (854g rear, 622g front, plus 117g for skewers) and still refreshingly attainable at a retail cost of US$999 including quick-release skewers, SwissStop Yellow King brake pads and valve extenders.

Spring and summer kit from Giordana

Also recently landing on the BikeRadar/Cyclingnews tech desk recently is some of the latest spring/summer gear from Giordana. The FR-C Trade jersey, part of the top-end Body Clone collection, is built with a surprisingly soft and stretchy Asteria fabric, augmented by carbon-reinforced Ametista materials for improved durability. Perforated Antigua bands at the cuffs and hem finish off the skin-tight fit.

The matching FR-C Trade bib shorts feature compressive Zaffiro panels, the same Antigua bands around the leg openings and for the bib straps as used on the jersey, and an open and airy upper section to improve breathability. Finishing things off is Giordana's premium T-Select Gel OmniForm pad. Riders seeking a more subtle design can also swap Giordana's trademark centaur logo for more straightforward geometric color blocks.

Expanding the FR-C Trade kit's temperature range is Giordana's Windfront Short Sleeve base layer and remarkably cozy-feeling FR-C Seamless arm and leg warmers, which use a variable knit throughout for extra stretch in key regions and a better fit but without needing extra stitching.

For cool spring mornings, we'll be reaching for the FR-C Lightweight Jacket with its wind- and waterproof Versatect fabric and stretchy Moovix HD panels. A fully backed full-length front zipper provides further protection against cold drafts along with the asymmetrically cut cuffs with Ametista AV grippers.

Rounding out our test kit is the FR-C Custom Glove with seamless wrist openings and silicon rubber appliqués for grip and the Formared Mid Cuff socks with specific left/right sizing for a closer fit.

Retail prices are as follows: US$200 (FR-C Trade Jersey); US$200 (FR-C Trade Bib Shorts); US$100 (Windfront Short Sleeve base layer); US$70 (FR-C Seamless Leg Warmer); US$60 (FR-C Seamless Arm Warmer); US$250 (FR-C Lightweight Jacket); US$50 (FR-C Custom Glove); US$17.50 (Formared Mid Cuff socks).

Scott Helium range blends road fit with off-road styling

Carbon superbike maker Scott is continuing to expand on the sample of soft goods brought into the US from its impressively vast European collection.

The Helium jersey – available in both short-sleeve and long – uses moisture wicking polyester blends and polyamide mesh panels fashioned in a traditional road-style cut, complete with ¾-length front zipper, standard array of rear pockets, and siliconized lower rear hem. The matching six-panel bib shorts feature similar fabrics joined together using flatlock seams, mesh inserts for additional ventilation and a stretch, multi-thickness seamless chamois.

Also included in our test kit are the Freeride and XC full-finger gloves. The Freeride features a lightly padded palm, silicon grip appliqués, and a colorful knit nylon back with Velcro wrist closure. The more minimalist XC, on the other hand, goes with an unpadded palm, a more open-mesh back for additional ventilation, and a simple pull-on wrist.

Retail prices are as follows: US$74.99/€79.95/£69.99 (Helium jersey, short-sleeved); US$79.99/€89.95/£79.99 (Helium jersey, long-sleeved); US$79.99/€89.95/£79.99 (Helium bib shorts); US$39.99/€39.95/£34.99 (Freeride gloves); US$29.99/€29.95/£26.99 (XC gloves).

Lazer Helmet's new off-road model seeks Nirvana

The new Lazer Nirvana is the company's latest mountain bike-specific model, featuring extra rear coverage and an internal reinforcement skeleton, a removable visor, generously sized vents tuned to evacuate hot air, X-Static pads, and a distinctly angular appearance.

In addition, the retention system utilizes Lazer's superb Rollsys system, which adjusts the interior circumference via a top-mounted dial and lends a snug, pressure point-free fit. Optional padsets include a winter variant to retain more heat and an insect net to keep stinging bugs away from your head.

Weight is a reasonable 309g for our XXS/M size and price is set at US$140.

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