A real mix of gravel and mountain bike gear this week with new bikes and gear. The mountain bikers will appreciate the Mission Workshop Axis waist pack and Traverse XC shorts, along with our snazzy new POC Octal X helmet. We also take a look at two new XC bikes, the Stevens Sonora RX and a Bianchi Nitron 9.4.
Stevens Sonora RX
The Sonora RX is the middle of the range model costing €2600 and comes with a solid spec matched to a shapely carbon frame. We rather like the subtle sleek look on offer here! We're looking forward to spending more time on the Sonora RX and think it will make a very capable long-distance machine. We'll be taking it with us to race Grinduro, and a full review will follow.
Bianchi Nitron 9.4
Bianchi is a legendary brand within the road bike world, but the Italian brand has always offered a mountain bike range alongside their skinny tyred offerings. This Nitron 9.4 is very much a classic cross-country race and marathon machine, but it's also the most affordable bike in the range to get the benefit of all their carbon fibre know-how. Check out our first look here.
Mission Workshop Axis waist pack
Mission Workshop is an unapologetically premium brand that started life making rucksacks. It's expanded since and one of the latest additions to its range is the Axis waist pack. It's a simple design with a big 2.5L compartment with a zippered pocket for keys and two internal slide-in dividers.
It's made from a rugged 500D Nylon, is weather resistant and the laser cut waist strap helps spread the load across your hips. We've managed to fit a tube, pump, puncture kit, multi-tool, keys, cards, an extra layer and some snacks in, so it's perfect for those longer rides.
Mission Workship Traverse: XC shorts
This is Mission Workshop's lightweight mountain bike short (they also have the Traverse version). They are cut above the knee and slim fitting, though maintain mobility with a 4-way stretch fabric. There's also a tidy, webbing belt with a single strap to get the fit right. We really like that they are understated enough to be worn off the bike as well.
POC Octal X helmet
POC has a focus on creating the ultimate in safety gear. The POC Octal X is its cross-country lid, though we see no reason why it can't be repurposed for gravel or even road (it is based on the original Octal road helmet). It features lots of venting and this mountain biking version is reinforced with 'aramid bridge technology' which appears to be an integrated structure which stops the shell breaking apart in case of an impact. We've actually got the SPIN version (POC's version of MIPS) which claims to prevent torque forces being transmitted to your head in a crash.
Halo Vapour GXC 27.5 wheelset
Halo recently released the Vapour GXC wheelset and we've been lucky enough to get the 650b size in. At the moment the wheels are mounted up with some WTB Nano tyres and are rolling on the Genesis Fugio we're currently testing. The 120-point engagement hubs should offer almost instantaneous pickup for technical gravel terrain. The rims have a 21mm internal width which supports the chunky tyres nicely. Our set weighs in at 760g for the front and 984g for the back wheel.
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