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New Arrivals – May 30, 2007

Edited by James Huang

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Welcome to New Arrivals, a section showcasing the latest equipment that's landed on the Cyclingnews tech desk. Look out for reviews over the next few months when we've clocked up some saddle time with this stuff.

Cateye Strada Wireless and Strada Cadence computers

Cateye's new Strada line of computers
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Cateye's cycle computers are a regular sight on the ProTour circuit (and occasionally on the MTB race scene as well) thanks to their reliable service, ease of use, and compact size. Moreover, the custom color schemes offered to its sponsored teams probably don't hurt, either.

The new Strada line is easily Cateye's tiniest to date, yet the bold 14mm-tall main display and 7mm-tall secondary display are among its largest, too. Screen size is maximized through the new ClickTec interface, which turns the entire lower section of the computer into a button in lieu of conventional separate keys for 'mode' and 'set'.

While already quite excellent, Cateye has also substantially improved its computer and sensor mounts. A new tool-free FlexTight computer bracket is quickly converted for use on stems or handlebars (some oddly-sized carbon models might present an issue), and new sensor mounts should prove much easier to set up on today's frames.

The Strada Wireless is intended to supplement the existing Micro Wireless (since there is no backlight) and offers users the usual speed, distance, and timer functions, plus an auto start/stop feature, auto power-saving mode, programmable odometer, pace arrow, and dual wheel size capability. The wired Strada Cadence replaces the Astrale 8 and adds… surprise, a cadence function.

Both units have tiny weights to match their tiny size: as mounted, the Strada Wireless weighs just 46g while the Strada Cadence adds just an extra 2g.

Price: US$60 (Strada Wireless); US$45 (Strada Cadence)

Sportful Hot Pack Wind Jacket

The Sportful Hot Pack Wind Jacket
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

In keeping with the 'less is more' mentality, Sportful's Hot Pack line promises maximum protection with minimal volume and weight. Included in the range is a jacket, vest, shoe covers, a full complement of warmers, and even gloves and a headband.

The Hot Pack Wind Jacket gains its wind protection thanks to the tightly woven fabric, but water (and stain) resistance comes courtesy of a high-tech NanoSphere Teflon coating from Schoeller. According to Schoeller, the NanoSphere coating replicates the finely structured surface of the lotus leaf plant, which has been long renowned for its self-cleaning and hydrophobic properties.

Think this sounds like a bunch of marketing hype? Perhaps, but the lotus leaf thing is definitely real and scientists have been working to replicate those types of natural technologies for years. In addition, Schoeller also claims its coating is more durable to washing and pressure (from hydration packs, for example) than other typical DWR treatments, and the self-cleaning properties translates into fewer trips to the washing machine, anyway.

So-called 'gill vents' in the armpits Hot Pack Wind Jacket and a rear covered mesh panel below the neck add extra breathability, and a reflective panel on the rear pocket provides low-light visibility. The single rear pocket also houses a built-in stuff sack that is smaller than your average apple when fully packed, and the whole deal weighs just 84g in a medium size. The Hot Pack Wind Jacket is offered in four colors and an impressively wide XS-XXXL size range

Price: £50

Trek Incite ACH Digital computer

The Trek Incite ACH Digital computer
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

At the opposite end of the spectrum in the 'more is more' school of thought, Trek's new Incite ACH Digital computer packs a heap of technology into its small body. Separate wireless speed and cadence sensors transmit digitally in the 2.4GHz frequency range for greater range and reduced interference, and a fully-featured integrated heart rate monitor completes the triple play.

A built-in altimeter adds elevation and grade information (including maximum, average, and current grade), and there's even a temperature display so you know just how cold it was up on the mountain when that storm rolled in and you suddenly remembered that you neglected to pack a jacket because it was too heavy (see above). Dual wheel size capabilities, a low battery indicator, and built-in backlight complete the stacked feature set, and the handlebar mount will accommodate standard or oversized bars, too.

As-mounted weight, including the HRM chest strap, is 126g.

Price: US$179.99

Continental Speed King Duraskin tires

Continental's new Speed King
Photo ©: Jonathan Devich
(Click for larger image)

Continental's new Speed King is purpose-built for marathon racing with a pared-down and widely-spaced set of knobs that are intended to deliver low rolling resistance and good grip on mixed terrain. Its most impressive statistic, though, is the almost unbelievable low weight. Our test tires are just 550g each even with a 26x2.3" casing (measured knob-to-knob) and Continental's Duraskin sidewall protection.

Only tube-type versions are available for now, but Continental does offer the tread pattern in a wide range of models and both 2.1" and 2.3" casing widths. The even lighter Supersonic edition (with its new Black Chili rubber compound) is claimed to weight as little as 400g, and there is a 700x35c model for cyclocross, too.

Price: US$45.99

Bell Variant helmet

The Bell Variant is a 'do-it-all' mountain bike helmet
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Bell doesn't try to pigeon-hole its new Variant helmet, preferring to just call it a "mountain biking" helmet. Indeed, its heavily-vented shell, subdued skate-inspired styling, and extra rear head protection should appeal to a diverse range of off-road disciplines. Features include Bell's outstanding GPS adjustable retention system, Fusion In-Mold Microshell construction (does anyone even just glue shells and liners together anymore?), internal reinforcement to prevent breakup upon impact, and an adjustable visor that's easily removable if you're so inclined.

The Variant is available in five colorways and three sizes, and naturally, all are CPSC certified. Our medium tester weighs 310g.

Price: US$100

Bontrager Rhythm Pro saddle

A flat profile from side to side
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Bontrager continues to expand on its new Rhythm line with a new saddle aimed at the all-mountain crowd. Not surprisingly, the Rhythm saddle retains the original San Marco-derived version's cropped and squared-off hindquarters for easier maneuvering, but thicker padding, a longer and broader shell, and Kevlar reinforcement add some much-needed durability and versatility for the intended segment.

Our Rhythm Pro tester is equipped with tubular stainless steel rails, bringing the weight down a reasonable 270g figure, while a more economical Rhythm Elite makes do with hollow chromoly rails to add about 50g.

Price: US$84.99 (Rhythm Pro); US$69.99 (Rhythm Elite)

Bontrager Rollbar multi-tool

The Bontrager Rollbar is smoothly contoured
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

The new Rollbar multi-tool from Bontrager aims to provide users with the most commonly used tools in a compact and lightweight package. Five hex wrenches (2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm), Phillips and flat head screwdrivers, a bottle opener, and a keyring are sandwiched between two lightweight aluminum rails which incorporate recessed hardware for increased comfort.

One notable omission from the list, however, is a T25 Torx bit for tightening rotor bolts, which already would have proved useful on one outing. To be fair, Bontrager includes that (among other things such as a chain tool) on its upcoming Rollbar DLX, and wanted to keep the standard Rollbar light, which it is at 96g.

Price: US$15.99


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com