Five Cool Things is off-road.cc’s Friday curation of all the tech gadgets that have recently come through our doors. From mountain biking and bikepacking to gravel travel, every week we'll take a closer look at the latest bikes and components, and keep you abreast of all the cool things that have got us excited.
This week, we’ve got another smorgasbord of colourful gear to show you, including some lightweight mountain bike shoes from Mavic, a brand-new 3D-printed Fizik saddle, HJC's Valeco helmet, a fresh pair of ST 500 gloves from Rockrider and some gravel-specific wheels from Parcours. Speaking of gravel wheels, our full review of the Halo Carbaura XCD Carbon Gravel is live and scored impressively well on test. In other news, Pirelli launched a new Cinturato Gravel RC tyre while Berria dropped the covers off its Belador Allroad gravel bike.
For the squeamish out there, we suggest you avoid our coverage of Isabeau Courdurier and how she had to abandon the Valberg leg of the EWS-E owing to nasty foot-impaling incident. Other than that, it's time to sit back, grab a coffee and enjoy your Friday read with Five Cool Things.
Mavic Ultimate XC shoes
£375 / $385 / €375
As far as the best mountain bike shoes go, Mavic’s Ultimate XC are some of the most visually rousing options on the market. Based largely on the road-going version, the Mavic Cosmic Ultimate III shoes, it combines the same Matryx overlap upper with a carbon-fibre sole. The only real difference being the rubberised grip interface which helps foster better traction in a hike-a-bike scenarios. They are available in two colourways: black and Mavic yellow (pictured here), which should satisfy the cycling sartorialists among us.
In terms of retention, the shoe is built around a brace of Boa IP1 dials that thread the wires through strategically placed loops under the tongue for a more personalised fit. While Mavic quotes a claimed weight of 300g per shoe, we recorded a slightly heavier figure of 315g on our scales - which is still properly light for an off-road-focussed shoe. While we’re yet to put them to the test, it will be interesting to see how the breathable Matryx material holds up to rock strikes and general wear and tear on the trail. Keep an eye out for the full review coming soon. - Aaron Borrill, Editor
Rockrider ST 500 gloves
Decathlon's in-house mountain bike brand, Rockrider, says that the ST 500 gloves are designed for MTB touring for up to four hours. Anything over that and I can't say what'll happen - yet. These full-finger gloves are designed to be breathable with a perforated back panel and grippy, thanks to a palm fabric chosen especially for its adhesive properties. In the further pursuit of grip, there's silicone on three of the fingers. Along with a terry cloth to wipe up snot and sweat, the ST 500s are also compatible with smartphone screens, handy! - Liam Mercer, Deputy Tech Editor
Fizik Vento Argo Adaptive R3 saddle
£259 / $259 / €259
Italian brand Fizik has expanded both its Argo and Adaptive 3D-printed portfolio with the new Vento Argo Adaptive R3 saddle. While perceived by many as a road-specific saddle, Fizik touts it as ‘a saddle for all roads’. As such, the short-nose design blueprint should find favour with many gravel and cyclo-cross riders. Like the Antares Adaptive, the Vento Argo Adaptive adopts the same 3D-printed lattice structure which prioritises comfort over outright performance thanks to a series of individually-tuned zones with varying degrees of support. It’s all very impressive and, more importantly, it works.
Utilising kium alloy rails and a carbon-reinforced nylon shell, the R3 is available in two width options - 140 and 150mm, the latter of which tips the scales at 228g (actual). For those looking for something even lighter, the Vento Argo Adaptive R1 gains carbon rails which saves around 35g over the R3. - Aaron Borrill, Editor
Parcours Alta Gravel wheelset
The Alta Gravel is the latest gravel wheelset from Parcours that comes with a host of interesting tech innovations. Namely, it benefits from the brand's IMPACT+ which is made using a carbon layup with a more flexible resin towards the edges of the rim that should dissipate those harsh hits. These wheels also use #thinkwider aerodynamic profiling to help promote extra speed on open gravel roads.
Parcours' new wheels are available with Shimano, SRAM 11-speed and SRAM XDR Campagnolo 11/12 speed and Campagnolo N3W 13-speed freehubs. They're claimed to tip the scales at 1,500g. - Liam Mercer, Deputy Tech Editor
HJC Valeco helmet
The Valeco from HJC claims to be modern and aerodynamic with plenty of ventilation from 12 large vents. Cooling doesn't just come from the vents, however, as the Valeco employs a technical adaptation of Bernoulli's principle. Essentially, it uses the pressure created by air moving over the helmet to suck in more air and exhaust it more efficiently than simply relying on a breeze.
It's built using an in-mold construction and comes with an internal reinforcement structure to improve the lid's strength while adding protection, too. - Liam Mercer, Deputy Tech Editor
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