Astronomically speaking winter doesn’t actually begin this year until December 21. But as cyclists we know this can’t really be true; an early ride on most November mornings will have us wrapped up like an Egyptian mummy as we head out into the lanes, wondering why on earth we didn’t just stay in bed.
By the time late December comes around we’ve either hardened to the task or decided that the turbo trainer isn’t quite as laborious as we sometimes pretend.
For those who prefer to ride outdoors no matter the conditions we’ve got plenty on offer this week. Fizik has released two pairs of winter-ready shoes - on and off-road issue - complete with Gore-Tex protection. Rapha too has opted to use the powerful properties of Gore-Tex in its latest winter jersey, while Le Col has gone for thermal-backed fleece in its cold-weather bib shorts. Hot stuff indeed.
What no shoe covers? Fizik release the winter miles-ready Artica GTX
Cold feet can quickly spoil a ride. Unlike cold hands, which can sometimes be coaxed back to life with a bit of encouragement and a coffee stop, once your feet turn to ice there’s little hope of improvement, or relief, until you’re back home. Winter cycling shoes (opens in new tab) are designed combat such ills, and this winter Fizik has released the Artica GTX shoes.
Available in two models for on and off road riding, the Tempo Artica GTX and the Terra Artica GTX are designed to keep the worst of the winter weather at bay. To help fend off the rain, as well as road spray, Fizik has equipped the shoes with a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane alongside a high-density PU-laminated and ripstop fabric upper. If it works, it should negate any need for overshoes. Crucially, the Gore-Tex fabric is also designed to be breathable, allowing sweat to escape, ensuring your feet remain nice and toasty.
To keep them warm in the first place, Fizik has lined the shoes with an insulating fleece. There’s also a Velcro closure around the ankle, which extends higher than a regular cycling shoe. The two combined should help to lock in the warmth. To help attain an optimum fit there’s also a single L6 BOA dial, chosen in part because it’s easy to operate with gloved hands.
So how do the two models differ? By and large it's the sole. The Tempo road shoes have a moderately stiff nylon outsole, while the Terra use an X5 nylon and rubber studded and coated outsole for improved grip. Naturally, this adds a bit of weight, with the Terra’s weighing 432g compared to 319g for the Tempos.
For more information visit fizik.com (opens in new tab)
Le Col are here to prove that thermal shorts are not an oxymoron
The vagaries of winter weather mean that sometimes full length bib tights (opens in new tab) can be too much, while your regular shorts remain a tad draughty. Thermal bibs shorts have long been in production, often paired in the good old days with 'Belgian Kneewarmers', or a slathering of winter embrocation for those not so well versed in the Flandrien lingo.
While shorts designed to keep you warm may sound counter intuitive, I’m glad insulated bibs have remained ‘a thing’; they’re ideally suited for 'milder' winter days, cold-weather racing or anytime you don’t want to feel restricted by tights. British brand Le Col has released a pair ready for the inevitable drop in temperature, but have taken an extra step; its Sport Thermal bib shorts, available for both men and women, come complete with cargo pockets.
The mesh side pockets add some additional storage, helping to prevent your jersey pockets from unduly sagging. But as with any pair of bibs, it's the fit, fabric and pad that really matter.
Le Col has used a four-way stretch Italian fleece-backed fabric to provide warmth without restricting movement. It has also created a new panel construction, which raises the waistline compared to its regular shorts. The extra coverage should help prevent a cold lower back that can be the bane of many a winter ride. As for the chamois, it’s a triple-layered affair complete with a gel insert. Other details include leg grippers, a mesh uppers for breathability and reflective strips on the rear leg for added visibility in low-light conditions.
For more information visit lecol.cc (opens in new tab)
To infinium and beyond; Rapha's latest winter jersey features Gore-Tex
We’ve featured products designed to keep your feet and legs warm, so it only seems right to address your torso, too.
Like Fizik, Rapha have called on outdoor fabric heavyweights Gore-Tex to take the long sleeve winter jersey (opens in new tab)to the next level.
The Pro Team Long Sleeve Gore-Tex Infinium Jersey uses said fabric to create a windproof and water yet breathable number that’s ideally suited for high-tempo riding in cold and blustery weather. While the jersey isn’t waterproof the Gore-Tex material is designed to handle light rain and snow.
Being part of the Pro Team line-up the jersey offers a race fit, cut short at the front for a better on-the-bike position. The fabric is designed to stretch, while a full zip with an internal guard should mean the weather is kept away from your bibs, while still offering the flexibility of unzipping should you require it. There are also three rear pockets for all your gubbins, as well as reflective details to help keep you seen.
The Pro Team Long Sleeve Gore-Tex Infinium Jersey is available in both men’s and women’s. Colours include Lime Green/Green, Silt Green/Myrtle and Dark Red/Red.
For more information visit rapha.cc (opens in new tab)
Spoon's custom approach gets more 'affordable' with scandium
For a brief period of time, around the turn of the millennium, scandium was a hot property in the bicycle industry. But it was also pretty costly, due largely to the expense of mining the metal, meaning that tubing and, subsequently, frames built using them had price tags that didn’t exactly translate to mass appeal. However, as a material it still offers plenty and Spoon Customs has chosen to showcase its properties with its Sestriere Scandium road bike.
The Sestriere, which is unveiled today at the Bespoked Handmade Bike Show (opens in new tab) in London, is made by hand using triple-butted Dedacciai scandium and 7005 tubing. Spoon says the disc-brake frameset is both stiff and responsive without the “harsh ride quality associated with cheaper alloys.” And despite its reputation as an expensive material, it allows Spoon to deliver its custom approach at a more affordable price; its carbon offerings are north of £7,000 for a complete build.
The Sestriere however is available as a fully custom bike for under £5,000/$5,000 (excluding duties and shipping) or as a frame-only for £1,895, with fittings taking place on-site at Spoon HQ. The complete build uses a SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset (opens in new tab), Zipp 303S wheels and Pro carbon finishing kit. Spoon’s USP is that for around the same price as an off-the-peg road bike from one of the big brands, you can enjoy a similar level of components but hung on a made-to-measure frame.
“With the Sestriere Scandium project, we can bring our custom approach to more people and make it more accessible,” says founder Andy Carr. “The big brands have convinced many people that making bikes designed for you just isn’t possible; it’s out of reach. This is surprising now that off-the-peg bikes cost just as much as custom work - it’s the big-brand business model that doesn’t deliver what customers need. We, however, are in the business of making better bikes but we also wanted to prove that it’s possible for custom bikes to also be affordable.”
For more information visit spooncustoms.com (opens in new tab).
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