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.
In the UK at least we've been teased of late with a hint of summer. Many of us revelled in being able to ride in short sleeves and shorts again for the first time. Spring had sprung, and we had some summer things in for testing, so naturally, it's started snowing again over large parts of the country and it's back to layering up.
Still, we can't let a bit of cold air stop us, can we? This week we've had a new summer jersey in from Le Col, some fancy white shoes from Specialized, carbon tyre sealant (no, really), a new gravel bike from Ridley, and some TT extensions from Carbon Wasp.
Pour yourself a glass of something and scroll down to see what's going to be reviewed soon here at Cyclingnews.
Le Col Pro Jersey II
Ah summer... Short sleeves, and long evenings riding into a warm sunset. Well, it was about four degrees when the latest offering for the warmer months arrived at my door from Le Col so please forgive me for my non-standard accessories.
The Pro II jersey is designed as a do-it-all summer option, with four way stretch to allow a snug aero fit. It is, apparently, even more stretchy than its predecessor, allowing a more form-fitting aero cut. The lightweight fabric aims to hit a middle ground too; light enough to stay cool, with good wicking properties, but with no mesh panels to take things to the extreme. The fabric is also notable for being made entirely of recycled materials, and the packaging, though quite elaborate, is also all recyclable materials.
I've not managed to test the jersey out on the road, nor in all honesty, have I worn it around the house either as it's simply been too cold, but in the brief moments while taking photos of it the material was wonderfully soft and plenty stretchy too. My only concern would be the logo on the very upper portion of the back panel, which is heavily embroidered and may potentially rub on long rides without a base layer, something which I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.
I'm looking forward to seeing how it performs once the mercury rises back up again and I can finally pack the winter gear away for the season. The Pro II jersey is available in both a long and a short sleeve version, at £130 and £140 respectively (approx. $170/$180) and both are available in black, navy, and bright yellow. The short sleeve version is also available in the olive green you can see here, and the long in a bright orange.
If this tickles your sartorial fancy then head to Le Col where you can place a pre-order for dispatch around the 21st April.
Specialized S-Works Ares shoes
While Mavic blew everything out of the water with its £900 Comete Ultimates in 2017, even adjusting for inflation a £375 / $425 RRP puts the Specialized S-Works Ares shoes into rarefied premium company, but it is on a par with other top-end options from the Big S.
"One per cent faster than any shoe we've made", claims Specialized. How this has been achieved is a little difficult to decipher, but it appears to be down to a mixture of sockless construction for a more aero profile, an extremely stiff sole and an upper with inbuilt, Dyneema reinforced "no stretch zones".
I've been wearing these for a couple of hundred kilometres so far this year and they feel very much like a race shoe; extremely stiff (the lightest and stiffest sole in Specialized's lineup), borderline unforgiving in the uppers, but with truly excellent power transfer.
They are a bit of a pain to get on, thanks to the integrated sock, but once you do get them on your feet they aren't going anywhere. The dual Boa dials combined with a tenacious heel cup lock the shoes absolutely in place. They felt a little narrow initially, which was alleviated by loosening the front dial more than I'd usually like.
While I'm yet to finalise my thoughts into a final review I can tell you where they absolutely shine is in those moments of 100 per cent effort; the way they hold your foot in place while pulling up on the pedals is exceptional, but it doesn't come without a slight comfort penalty I fear.
Silca Ultimate Sealant
Tyre sealant is far from the lost lust-worthy and exciting of components or accessories, in fact, unless you are particularly obsessive about your bike setup it's often relegated to the ‘I bought it because it was on sale’ or ‘it’s just what I have always used’. However, there is often more than meets the eye when it comes to the best tubeless sealant and brands are putting more and more development into theirs with all sorts of different concoctions.
Silca recently made its entrance to the market with its new Ultimate sealant and while most new sealants press releases are a bit boring, Silca’s prospect thoroughly grabbed our attention. Not only is Silca claiming a very long interval between refills but - as far as we are aware - it’s the first sealant to use carbon fibre as the sealing assisting particulate.
Silca’s Ultimate sealant also uses a foaming action which apparently helps carry the carbon to the offending puncture wound so that it seals faster and larger holes. The carbon itself is sourced from recycled carbon products, including old bike frames, which rather than sitting in a landfill, are crunched up, cleaned and processed. The eco-credentials don’t stop there, even if your tyre does end up splashing some sealant on the ground, Silca says the natural latex and cleaned carbon should have no negative effects on the environment.
It all makes sense. The proof is in the pudding though so we have got our hands on some and are looking forward to putting it to the test. It might be a long one though, as Silca claims that when used in conjunction with its Replensher the sealant can have a life expectancy of up to a year!
Carbon Wasp Aero Extensions
Yorkshire-based company, Carbon Wasp, has been designing and manufacturing carbon fibre cycling paraphernalia for a while now, boasting a portfolio brimming with bicycle frames, crank arms and components such as the bar extensions pictured here. Dubbed the 'Aero Extensions', this carbon-fibre aerobar system has been designed to allow a greater level of adjustability, enabling riders to refine their riding position. While Carbon Wasp has been making aero systems since 2018 already, primarily under contract for other companies, it only recently began offering an own-branded option. The result are the Aero Extensions - a product aimed at both the competitive amateur and professional athlete.
For many triathletes, time trialists and track racers, aerobar adjustment on stock setups can be quite restrictive but Carbon Wasp has created a personalised approach with bar angles that are infinitely adjustable from 0-30-degrees (most stock setups max out at 15-degrees rise). Available in two guises - Non-UCI and UCI-compliant, the Aero Extensions fit flush against the arms, and provide superior ergonomics and leverage while closing the gap between the hands and head. Manufactured from different types of pre-preg carbon, both high strength standard modulus (Toray T700) and 2x2 twill weave, the extensions are both incredibly strong and visually dramatic.
They are available as both an off-the-shelf and fully customisable option. We were sent the off-the-shelf Non-UCI specification package, complete with U-shaped arm rests to test during this year's UK time trial season. The bars are compatible with pretty much all OEM basebars, and the bar ends play nicely with Shimano/SRAM shifters and feature internal cable routing and space inside for a junction box, too (eTap blip box fits inside Non-UCI version).
As expected from a niche, artisanal product, the Carbon Wasp Aero Extensions are a pretty pricey investment that will set you back £795 /$1,050 (including carbon aero extensions, arm rests, adjustable angle wedges and all hardware). We'll be fitting them to a Vision Metron TFA and will report back on how things went in the coming weeks.
View the Aero Extensions at Carbon Wasp.
Ridley Kanzo Adventure
Launched just this week, the Kanzo Adventure is Ridley's answer to the way in which the gravel scene has diverged in recent years.
At one end of the scale, there's the gravel racer hitting up races like Unbound, SBT GRVL and Dirty Reiver. They go fast, wear lycra, and might even spend a good portion of their time riding on the road between sections of gravel or singletrack. They want a bike that more closely resembles a road bike, but with the capability and clearance to handle terrain beyond badly surfaced tarmac.
At the other end, there's the adventurer who packs everything but the kitchen sink onto their bike and heads off into the wilderness for days on end. They don't care for average speeds, but they might be tempted by that technical-looking trail, so they want a bike that can handle the rough stuff.
It's the second group of people that the Kanzo Adventure is aimed at, and it leaves no ambiguity about it. For starters, it can handle 29x2.1in mountain bike tyres, making it a truly capable off-roader, and it's compatible with gravel suspension forks for even more added cush. In addition, it comes with 18 mounting bolts for luggage and water, with a further seven for lights and mudguards. If that doesn't already shout 'bikepacking adventure', then the integrated cable routing for a Dynamo light is the cherry on the wilderness explorer cake.
We've already spent some time riding it and it's a bike we're seriously impressed with so far, but there's much more testing to be done, so watch this space.
View and build your own Kanzo Adventure at Ridley.com
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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 tinkering with another of them, or getting obsessive about tyres. Also, as he doesn't use Zwift, he's our go-to guy for bad weather testing... bless him.
Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross, Fairlight Secan & Strael