The Musette is Cyclingnews’ Friday series in which we take a quick look at some of the world’s best cycling gear. We’ll take a look at pro-level equipment, bikes and components, alongside some of the most desirable clothing and newest accessories in the sport.
I'm putting this edition of the Musette together at the tail end of a week that, here in the UK at least, has been a constant tease of the joys of summer. We've had spells of glorious UV for a few hours before being slapped round the shops with high winds and heavy rain out of nowhere.
In order to coax some more sunshine into the following week I've compiled some prime hot weather gear from MAAP, Mavic, 100%, and controversially some full pro kit from the Belgians over at Bioracer. If we don't get a heatwave now I'm not sure what else I can do besides massively increasing my carbon footprint.
As well as opening our individual postboxes to see what lies within, Josh has been valiantly weather sugar highs day in and day out to bring you a guide to the best energy bars (the poor lad had only just finished the best energy gels too so we're going to shut him in a dark room for a bit), while Aaron has been testing out the much less sugary new Specialized S-Works Torch shoes. From across the pond we've been treated to some ultra desirable titanium in the form of a Moots Routt RSL review, and finally I've been pondering whether all aero bikes look the same, and whether that's actually a good thing, despite my retro-grouch tendencies.
Get the firepit out, run the patio heater 24/7 (don't!) and think warm thoughts as you treat yourself to our highlight reel.
MAAP Alt_Road 1/2 Zip jersey
We recently reviewed the Alt_Road Cargo Bibs, which you can see in the pics too. If these tickled your fancy but you were thinking "what on earth can I wear up top to match a pair of brown, gold, teal, and purple bibs?!" then wonder no more; the good folks at the Australian, fashion forward MAAP had the good grace to send over their Al-Road half zip jersey which matches perfectly (no great surprise, they were designed together after all).
Half-zips have fallen from favour from the upper echelons of cycling apparel of late, and are more often seen on more budget garments, but MAAP seems determined to buck this trend. The inability to totally open the jersey alludes to it not being designed for full on high summer use, but more somewhere around the upper twenties, or around one per cent of the melting point of molybdenum for our American readers.
MAAPs Naturalmatch blend of merino wool and polyamide aims to mix the benefits of both materials to create a garment that is breathable in the heat, but also insulating enough that you don't freeze on an early start or late night that may occur on extended expeditions. The merino, too, should aid in reducing the stink that occurs over multi-day riding thanks to its natural antibacterial properties.
The jersey itself feels thicker than most short sleeve options, with a lightly fleeced interior that's extremely soft to the touch and an exterior that feels more smooth and synthetic. It's almost as if the two materials have been sandwiched, rather than blended.
The sleeves are a modern longer cut, but lack the gripper that appears on the hem. As it fits a little larger than something like a pure race jersey would, for all day comfort, this isn't such an issue though. The classic three back pockets are complemented by a spacious zippered essentials pocket, also at the back, and oddly a tab to attach a strap. This strap tab I suspect is an aesthetic addition only as while it's possible to thread a Voile Nano strap though I wouldn't really trust it to hold more than your socks for the all important Instagram gravel river crossing.
If you're more conservative than I am when it comes to your fashion choices there is also a black version to match the stealthy bibs we reviewed, but I implore you to choose the jazzy option. In either case the half zip will set you back £155 / AUD$245 / Approx. $195.
Will Jones - Reviews Writer
For motorsport fans this baby blue and mid orange colour scheme only really means one thing: Gulf Racing. While these 100% S3's aren't officially an homage to the livery most famously seen adorning the Porche 917 or the Fort GT, the motorsport heritage of the brand means it must have at least been part of the design discussion (100% have been making motocross eyewear since the 80's).
The S3, for many years a set of shades effectively synonymous with Peter Sagan, and latterly Mattheu van der Poel, was responsible in no small way for the brands relatively sudden transformation from unknown to must-have; something to break the semi stranglehold that Oakley holds in the cycling consciousness as the big name in sunglasses.
While I've not had the chance to get any miles in with them yet, I can tell you the coverage and field of view is up there with the best cycling sunglasses. The arms grip, and my only initial concern is the nose gripper. I have a very narrow nose at the top, so sometimes suffer with sunglasses falling down. The arms on the S3 however feel pretty secure, but without testing over bumpy ground when sweaty it's impossible to know for sure.
The frames are slightly unusual in this instance in that they're soft-touch, which is pleasing to hold in the hand. As the glasses rest on the nose and arm grippers it's not something that you'd feel when wearing but it's certainly novel.
Mine arrived with a contrast enhancing HiPER silver mirror lens, which has a slight orange tint to it, along with a clear lens for night riding. Check back in later to see how they fare after our usual rigorous testing.
A set of 100% S3s will set you back $185 / £190
Will Jones - Reviews Writer
Mavic Cosmic Ultimate III shoes
It's been three years now since Regent, a California-based conglomerate, acquired Mavic from Amer Sports but this has done little to affect the passion of the revered French company. While it's better known for its road bike wheels and for providing neutral support for the Tour de France - a 44-year-old tradition that ended in 2020 - Mavic also produces a range of helmets and shoes, the latter of which is headlined by the Mavic Cosmic Ultimate III.
As the brand's best cycling shoe, the Cosmic Ultimate IIIs stitch years of experience into a refined package that pays special attention to ergonomics, performance, and material management - and the result is nothing short of sensational. They are available in three colourways: black, Mavic yellow, glacier grey and white (pictured here) and are built around the notion of minimalism.
The last is built around a super-stiff carbon-fibre sole which is bonded to a Matryx overlap upper - a fabric that incorporates Kevlar woven polyamide to reduce weight and improve retention. The result is a glove-like fit that evenly distributes pressure through the use of dual Boa IP1 dials that thread the wires through strategically placed loops under the tongue. Despite Mavic's propensity for producing narrow shoes, the Ultimate IIIs possess a glove-like fit with ample room in the toe box and enough stretch in the midfoot to provide comfort.
That said, these are performance focussed and are naturally suited to the elite-level cyclist so the carbon sole is extremely stiff and provides a solid platform from which to apply power. While I haven't had a chance to properly test them, they feel great on the foot and look as though they will provide a lot of rich feedback through the underpinnings.
While Mavic is known for its somewhat dainty shoe dimensions, the sizing spectrum is very comprehensive catering for foot lengths of EU36 to 48 ⅔. In terms of weight, the Ultimates tipped the scales at 202g per shoe (actual, size EU42). As the ultra-competitive best cycling shoes segment hots up we'll be bringing you the final verdict very soon and expect the Mavic Ultimate III shoes to perform very well. Especially when considering the £375 / $385 / €375 price point.
Aaron Borrill - Technical Editor
Bioracer Ineos replica kit
I've decided I'm on a crusade to challenge the notion that wearing pro team kit is uncool. I just don't get it. Why would you happily wear a jersey branded with Rapha or Castelli logos any more than a kit bearing the sponsor of a professional cycling team? That's no slight on Rapha or Castelli, they're both great brands and both feature in our list of the best cycling clothing brands, but it baffles me that a Rapha armband or a Castelli scorpion is 'allowed' while a pro replica kit isn't.
Sure, EF Education First, Alpecin, Fenix, or in this case Ineos might not be cycling brands, but they're putting their money into a sport that we all love - whatever their reasons for doing so. And no, I don't ride for Ineos Grenadiers. But equally, I'm not sponsored by Specialized and I ride a Tarmac, I'm not signed to the Liverpool FC academy but I'll wear my top when we play against Real Madrid in the Champions League final, and I'm absolutely not signed to the Adidas influencer program, but guess which brand of shoes I'm wearing.
The point is to wear what you like. If you're a fan of Richard Carapaz's attacking style, show it. If you channel your inner Cav every time you see a town sign, join the wolfpack. Or more simply, if you like the red to blue fade of the latest Ineos kit, or EF's latest Giro switchout kit, then buy it, wear it, and rock it. And if you don't, don't. But also don't berate someone else just because they do, because they're out there riding bikes just like you, making this world a better place one pedal stroke at a time.
Josh Croxton - Rider, Team Ineos
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Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. There are very few types of cycling he's not dabbled in, and he has a particular affection for older bikes and long lasting components. Road riding was his first love, before graduating to racing CX in Yorkshire. He's been touring on a vintage tandem all the way through to fixed gear gravel riding and MTB too. When he's not out riding one of his many bikes he can usually be found in the garage making his own frames and components as a part time framebuilder, restoring old mountain bikes, or walking his collie in the Lake District.
Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, 1988 Specialized Rockhopper, Stooge Mk4, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross