The scoop

All the stuff that makes you glad to be a cyclist

Pacenti SL23 wheelset

Black rims, spokes, hubs and simple decals may see some customers glance over a pair of Pacenti SL23 custom wheels, but don’t let the lack of flare turn you away from these solid performers. We weighed this particular pair in the Cyclist office and at 1,460g for a complete set, excluding quick releases and with a five-year warranty against defects in workmanship, we took it upon ourselves to test their mettle. Unfortunately even the rigorous thrashing during our Big Ride trip in Tasmania wasn’t enough to unseat them from rolling as true as the day they left the BikePro office. The experienced builders offer a vast range of rim, spoke and hub options, and with the use of the Centrimaster digital truing stand they are built to an extremely high standard that is backed by the tightest of tolerances and not just on feel alone. If you’re looking for a pair of lightweight training or club racing hoops, with a long-term promise direct from the builder, then here’s a pretty good place to start.

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$999, bikepro.com.au

Leatherman Mako Ti

Named after the fast swimming Mako shark, the flat-pack titanium multi-tool has all the essentials for rapid roadside fixes. At 42g it’s small and light enough to stash in your saddle bag, pod or back pocket, and with nine tools including a bottle opener you should be up and running again in no time. The Mako Ti also comes with a enduring 25-year warranty – that will no doubt outlast your cycling career

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$69.95, leatherman.com.au

Biknd Helium

It was on the return leg from a pre-season training camp that a travelling cyclist’s worst nightmare occurred. A week of fantastic weather and riding was nearly all but forgotten after seeing the top tube nearly cut in half. It was time for a new bike bag that offered more protection without the weight penalty of a hard case. Enter the Helium by Biknd, which at 11kg should still see you below the usual 25kg weight limit once fully loaded. There’s room for two pairs of wheels, neatly secured to the sides and you don’t need WorldTour mechanic ability to use it. The frame is affixed at the fork and rear dropouts, and once you’ve placed all those little extras inside you can jump aboard with mind at ease thanks to the inflatable partitions. Sturdy wheels and towing strap mean there’s no heavy lifting involved, and once you’ve arrive at your destination you’ll be on the road again in no time.

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$799, biknd.com

Look 695 Aerolight

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Many people know that Look was the first brand to introduce a commercially available clipless pedal back in the ’80s. Fewer are aware that it also has the accolade of being first to have a carbon frame, its K86, raced in the pro peloton, by none other than Greg LeMond. What’s more, Look can also claim to be the first with a full monocoque carbon track frame. And a fully adjustable stem can be added to its list of firsts too.

As a company, Look doesn’t always shout about its achievements as much as some other brands, but it has been quietly pushing the boundaries of bicycle technology for decades. The 2010 launch of its 695 showcased some genuinely modern thinking, with innovations such as its adjustable C-Stem, remarkable Zed 2 one-piece carbon cranks, and E-Post with neat elastomer shock absorber built into the integrated seatmast. Building on the success of those unique features, Look has revamped its flagship model – the 695 Aerolight, used by selected riders of the Cofidis team at this year’s Tour de France – and once again the company is showing the rest of the industry how it’s done in terms of integration, but it is also joining the now industry-wide push into the realm of aero road bike frame design.

Now you see it…

Based in Nevers, France, just down the road from the Magny-Cours motor racing circuit, it’s fitting that Look has collaborated with an F1 aerodynamicist, René Hilhorst, to develop the 695 Aerolight frame. A glance at the tube profiles shows there have been tweaks to the previous 695, however they don’t look as aggressively aerofoiled or kammtailed as many other brands. In fact the frame still looks quite boxy and not as slender as you might expect, yet Look claims the new frame offers a 3% drag saving compared with the old 695. The Aerolight is also 90g lighter too, thanks to a new thinner, high modulus layup with 1.5K weave.

‘Many of the aero gains are from cleaning up the frontal area of the bike,’ explains UK brand manager Tim Bayley. ‘The new aero stem, which was originally tested in the track programme for the London Olympics [so you can imagine how stiff it is], uses a very slim clamp in place of a traditional four-bolt face plate, plus it routes the front brake cable directly through it into the fork steerer so that the whole handlebar area is as clutter-free as possible.’

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Similarly key to the aero improvements, and a big part of the aesthetic of the 695 Aerolight, is the integration of the brakes. Look is not the first brand to place the front brake inside the forks and the rear brake behind the BB shell – we’ve seen similar systems used by both BMC in its Timemachine and Ridley with its Noah Fast – but Look’s solution is undeniably neat. The V-Brakes produced in collaboration with TRP are not only almost completely hidden, but Look also claims a 20% improvement in braking power over a standard calliper.

‘Look’s engineers were determined that the Direct Drive concept [Look’s name
for the integration of components into the frame] would be equally about improving performance as it was about aerodynamics and aesthetics,’ says Bayley.

Cranking it up

Look’s Tunisian manufacturing facility is ISO 9001 compliant, which means it conforms to a string of quality controls that are not always observed by many other brands.It’s another aspect that Look doesn’t shout loudly enough about, according to Bayley. It means the company can be certain of the conformity, cleanliness and efficiency of each of its manufacturing processes.

Bayley is keen to stress the differences between Look and its competitors: ‘Take the Zed 2 crank. Five years on and still no other manufacturer offers a comparable stiffness-to-weight ratio close to that of the 320g, unique Look design.’ It’s true that moulding the crank arms, axle and spider into a single carbon structure is an impressive piece of engineering. Then there’s the ‘Trilobe’, a movable nut at the end of the crank that allows the crank length to adjust between 170mm, 172.5mm and 175mm.

The new Aerostem is similarly versatile, adjusting angularly from -13° to +17° while also being 20g lighter than the old C-Stem. The E-Post integrated seatmast is unchanged from the original 695 – an elastomer between the integrated seatpost and seatmast (available in three densities: soft, medium and firm) helps eliminate vibration from the road.

The complete 695 Aerolight, including fork, headset, integrated crank and E-Post, weighs a claimed 2,550g. That should mean a full build could dip south of the 6.8kg UCI limit, even with a Di2 or Campag EPS on board, for which the frame is compatible too, including internal cabling and battery options.

Look frameset $8,499, Dura-Ace 9000 $14,999 (model shown with Ultegra 6800 11-speed) groupesportif.com

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