PEZ Gear Break: Latest Stuff!
Cranking out the in depth gear reviews we’ve become famous for takes more hours than you’d guess, but there’s a lot of cool gear that comes across the desk that’s actually better served in small bites like the new TDF range of Tees from Apres Velo, LOOK’s Keo 2 Max pedals in limited edition colors and Tate Lab’s Bar Fly 2.0 Garmin mount.
Like a lot of industries, the currency most paid out in cycling is ‘swag’. Also like a lot of industries, the most paid out denomination of swag is the “tee shirt”. I haven’t bought a t-shirt since 2004… yet my closet runneth over with the cotton camiche.
This can have its benefits, for instance if you fall into or below the college-aged demographic and you don’t mind being a walking billboard for some brand making a bunch more money than you do. If you’re old enough to be on a career path, you do risk looking like a cheapo, and may from time to time catch the disapproving look from the Mrs. who wishes just once you’d wear a shirt with sleeves.
With so much of this almost worthless currency flooding the market, it’s easy to miss an item of true quality when it comes along – like the hot-off the presses TDF range of limited edition tees from Apres Velo.
I first looked at their gear last year, and was impressed by the quality construction and original designs. This latest batch of samples may even notch the bar upwards, but in a way impossible to really show over the internet. I’m talking about the feeling of the cotton used – it’s incredibly soft to the hand – which proves that their choices of brushed cotton and silicone washing treatments really do work to make a tee-shirt more comfortable than you could imagine.
Just in time for Le Tour, there’s a big range of new styles at their website – cut for both men & women, priced at $34.95. Beyond that they really are serious about casual after-bike gear – and offer a pretty cool 10% Off For Life discount just for joining their newsletter.
• See more at ApresVelo.com
Bar Fly 2.0
The Bar Fly 2.0 is Tate Lab’s latest aftermarket mount for Garmin units. This simple piece of plastic will ‘revolutionise the use of your Garmin computer’. Or at least if you believe the publicity blurbs and forum comments it will.
The idea behind the Barfly 2.0 is that it’s designed with an aerodynamic low profile that places the Garmin Computer screen inline, out front, and level with the handlebar/stem in ‘eye’s view’. It can be used with the Garmin 200/500 or the larger 510/800/810’s and is mounted with a single bolt, full wrap clamp for 31.8mm handlebars.
An interesting addition to the 2.0 is that the guys at Tate have engineered a platform for Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS electronic shifting modules on the underside of the unit to make electronic installation much neater. I don’t have Di2 or EPS on my bike though, but I’ve used the Garmin Edge 200 for about 6 months now so I was recruited to test this particular product. Over this time I’ve had zero problems or issues with the standard mount, so I was thinking that this would be a quick test: put the unit on the bike, take a few photos and then give it back and go back to my old ways.
First pleasant surprise for me was the quality feel of the Barfly 2.0. Yes, it’s just a piece of plastic but it’s obvious there’s been a lot of thought in its design and construction. The plastic itself is actually called, ‘Delrin’ which a bit of research showed me that it’s a very high quality plastic designed to bridge the gap between metals and ordinary plastics with a unique combination of creep resistance, strength, stiffness, hardness, fatigue resistance, solvent and fuel resistance, abrasion resistance… ok, you get the idea it’s quality stuff. The use of Delrin is important as the Garmin units themselves are plastic and hard materials such as aluminum could easily damage the unit whilst the Delrin made Bar Fly will not damage your computer.
So it’s a high quality, well engineered & made piece of plastic, but one that I had absolutely no use for a few weeks ago when Tate first sent me the unit. After the very first ride though I was sold and it wasn’t for the ‘aero’ advantage that Tate talk about, nor for its superior to Garmin lock in engagement or its admittedly aesthetic advantage over the standard mount. For me it was all about the fact that the Barfly 2.0 put my Garmin in a much better position on my bike. I’d never noticed it before, but the position ‘out front’ of the bars instead of on the stem is much easier when riding. The screen is always within view and it just feels natural.
At just 22 grams, Di2 & EPS compatible, with a superb handlebar clamp system, carbon handlebar safe and even a “Buy one you’re done” lifetime warranty and crash replacement policy the Barfly 2.0 is definitely worth a look. At the end of the day it’s still $25 for a piece of plastic though but its quality and intelligent design are undeniable.
Black not your color? Well TateLabs have just produced the Barfly 2.0 in 3 new colors to pimp out your ride with yellow, blue and white now joining black in the lineup. Same price, same function and same quality as the black. (Available from the 1st week of July)
MSRP $24.99. More info on the Barfly 2.0 and their other mounts like the BarFly TT for aero bars or the new Barfly 3.0 for mtb’s at www.tatelabs.com
LOOK KEO 2 MAX Pedals Limited Edition Colors
LOOK were the inventors of clipless pedals way back in 1984 and today in 2013 they’re still the world leader in clipless pedals despite much competition from different systems, various copies and others that are on the market today. In fact when I received these latest KEO 2 Max pedals in their limited edition colors I was presented with a problem as I was a confirmed user of another brand’s pedals and consequently had different cleats on my shoes. Not really a problem of course as the pedals came in the box with the standard grey cleats (4.5° movement) and they’re easy to install but I had less than 10 minutes to do so. I then also had to put the new pedals on my bike quickly before going riding with 30 other journalists who were waiting on me to ride up Mt Ventoux.
I had to very quickly estimate the best position for my cleats and then I simply jumped on and rode and this is where the simplicty and the ease of use of the KEO 2 Max’s came into play. These truly are a simple pedal to clip into, out of and just use in general. The fundamental design of LOOK’s clip in style has been much copied over the years and for good reason – it just works. Despite being on a completely unfamiliar bike that day and having zero ‘play’ time with the pedals before setting off up one of the biggest and gnarliest mountains that France has to offer, I didn’t for one moment feel uncomfortable with these pedals. They simply felt good from the very first minute.
The KEO 2 Max has an easy and safe engagement and release and a relatively large stainless steel platform area and I’d say it was this large contact area that led to the natural feeling I had upon the first use. A pedal is not all about the first use though and it’s the day in day out use that’s important and with the smooth rotational float, a carbon injected pedal body, the stainless steel cleat contact area and an oversized steel axle with dual seals this should ensure that this is a pedal that will last. In this 2 month test I’ve managed to log 2000km in all sorts of conditions on these pedals with the most common weather being a combination of rain, snow and extreme winds. Ah, yes the European ‘Spring’ certainly has been great fun this year.
Through those conditions the pedals have held tough, the axles are still as smooth as the day at Ventoux 2 months ago and they still look sharp – despite having experienced the odd scratch and discoloration here and there as you can see in the photos. This is the business end of the bike though so they’re bound to not stay pretty all their lives – although I still think they look good after 2 very tough months of riding and general abuse.
The three different colors currently available are a limited edition run but the KEO 2 Max will continue to be available in their standard colors of white body/black lever or graphite body/black lever after these colors run out. I tested the red and white version but I kind of like the look of the black and white one and one fashion victim training partner has gone out and got the black and fluro greenish/yellow ones to match his Cannondale of the same colors…
One thing I haven’t discussed is the weight and this is where I had one of the biggest surprises – LOOK publicity states that the pedals are 130 grams each for a combined weight of 260 grams, when in fact I weighed them and they consistently came in at 257 grams. Ok, so 3 grams isn’t exactly a big difference but a manufacturer who has actually erred on the side of caution and overestimated a product’s weight is about as rare as a sunny day at the Giro this year – it just doesn’t seem to happen.
With their now confirmed weight of 257 grams (325 grams with cleats and hardware) this places the pedals as one of the lighter pedals in its category which would most likely be down to the use of injected carbon and composite materials and their slim design. It seems to me that the KEO’s are getting slimmer and slimmer as the years go on with this model having an axle/sole height of just 15.7mm compared to the lower end models KEO Easy with 17.5mm or the KEO Flex with 17.1mm.
The pedals are delivered with the 4.5-degree (grey) KEO Grip cleats but after a week’s riding on these I swapped them out for a pair of the red 9-degree float options. It’s a personal preference and probably due to my familarity with a fairly free floating pedal that I normally use but if you like 0° of movement then that option is covered too with the black cleats.
You can also adjust the tension on the KEO 2 Max’s with anywhere from 9 to 15 Nm available just with the turn of an allen key. I personally felt no need to increase the tension as the standard tension felt super solid and yet easy to get in and out of but in the interest of the test I pulled out the allen key and dialed them up anyway. At 15Nm tension they’re certainly harder to get in and out of and a crit rider who’s regularly sprinting out of corners may like a super tight tension like this but it’s probably overkill for most people. If you’re pulling out of these pedals accidentally when dialed up you should think about changing your pedaling style – not your pedals!
So all in all, another quality offering from LOOK with a relatively low weight, a high degree of usability and now available in 3 funky colors! Depending upon where you are in the world these new pedals should set you back around 99.95 Euros or US$180 or so. For more info you can check out www.lookcycle.com