Aldi Bikemate front and rear lights

Be quick. No be very quick. These are going to sell out very quickly because, frankly, they are superb. More of that in a bit. Get off to your local Aldi immediately and nab some. They’re £12.99 each and, look, why are you still here? Have you gone yet?

Aldi don’t do cycling stuff as often as Lidl. About twice a year in fact. But when they do, boy do they go to town. But I can’t remember a range quite as extensive as this round with over 70 items to choose from. All your basic needs are there, cheap clothing, gloves, a bit of Muc Off. And there are some more expensive items such as a fluid turbo trainer (£69), bike stands etc. Oh, and the not insignificant matter of selling Garmin 810’s at £179.99. Beat that, well, everyone else. It’s not a fiction either, there were at least 3 in my local store, you might need to ask the manager as they’re generally in some glass cabinet with other exotic electronics.

But back to these lights. Aldi are selling a few different ones this time, from a £2.99 emergency button rear, a twinpack and separate front and rear strip lights. And, yes, for the observant amongst you they are Moon Nebula. I should probably put that in inverted commas or something. I don’t know if these are replicas or just OEM and made for Aldi, I suspect the latter, but for all intents and purposes they look the same. Hell, even the packaging appears to be the same. Context, both versions from Moon will typically set you back £35-£45. These then are just a bit cheaper……

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So, what do you get? Well, the essential specifications are as follows:

Aldi Front Light

  • High brightness LED
  • 4 lighting modes and 4 flashing modes
  • Water resistant
  • Rechargeable battery with charging/low battery indicator
  • Micro-USB rechargeable cable
  • Universal brackets
  • Provides 240 lumens output

Aldi Rear Light

  • High brightness LED
  • 4 lighting modes and 4 flashing modes
  • Water resistant
  • Rechargeable battery with charging/low battery indicator
  • Micro-USB rechargeable cable
  • Universal brackets
  • Provides 100 lumens output

Both are, of course, rechargeable and report needing only 2 hours for a complete charge. Impressive. Run time? No idea. Between 10-20 hours it appears but, with a 2 hour charge time, it’s not much of an issue charging these every day. That will have an effect on battery longevity but, hey, £12.99.

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Each light is equipped with a plethora of mounts. So, the first picture above shows the rear light attachments, a saddle clip, rubber band type mount (which is adaptable enough for seatposts and seat stays) and a belt clip. Yet another USB lead is supplied. The front, of course, does away with the saddle clip. Given that they seem to be Moon Nebula it’s pretty easy getting spare mounts and a wider variety as well. So I’ll be investing in the £4 helmet mount shortly to stick this at the back of my helmet.

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The rear provides easy access to the charging port and the rubber fit is good meaning that these should stand up brilliantly in the wet. The body itself is aluminum and seems a pretty hardy affair. Charging is indicated by a flashing blue light which turns steady once fully charged. They arrive fully charged as well.

In use? Well, blinding. Don’t look at them. Of course you’ll need to make sure that you use them appropriately so as not to blind others. Operation is easy, just one switch to turn on, each press then escalates the lumens. Double switch and flash mode is engaged, each press then escalates the lumens. There are 4 solid settings, 3 flash settings and a strobe mode.

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All pretty great but, you want to see some videos right? Well, here you go.

 

Overall? Brilliant. Let’s be clear, these won’t light the way (that comment being mostly directed at the front). But for getting you seen they are an absolute bargain. There’s nothing particularly smart about them but they’re a great addition to the winter cycling kit bag. They won’t be there long so grab some while you can. If you’re still reading this get on with it.

 

Assos Mille Intermediate Jacket Evo 7

Or, as Assos call it, the Milleintermediatejacket_evo7. And that does make it fantastically difficult to find. So try Wiggle, search for mille jacket and it doesn’t come up, neither does mille jersey, but evo 7 and intermediate work. That’s not great when you’re trying to launch a new product and, frankly, I came upon it only by chance.

You might recall that I am quite quite fond of the “previous” Intermediate S7 jersey. In fact I think it’s among the best pieces of cycling clothing ever made. It might even by my outright favourite. What it is not, is cheap. It has an RRP of £185 though, obviously, shop around.

The Mille is a replacement for the Intermediate. Except that it isn’t. Assos’ website claims of the “old S7” that “this is it! The next generation, brand new successor to the legendary intermediate Evo long-sleeve jersey,” and of the “new mille” that it’s “The successor to the intermediate jacket, we’ve created a mille-cut jacket that will give you the ultimate in performance at an amazing price point.” Clear as mud. Given that the S7 remains it seems fairly clear that the intention is that both jackets replace the old (very old) intermediate evo jersey and that this new Mille is, in effect, a budget version of the S7.

Budget. From. Assos. That’s pretty remarkable in itself. It’s clearly not budget as we’d come to expect from the value brands. But it’s definitely premium budget. So, try and find a Rapha windproof jersey at the RRP of this one (£135 by the way, but expect to pay around £120). It’s a full £65 less than its predecessor. So, inevitably, comparisons are not only there to be drawn, they’re pretty much obligatory. Given HOW good the S7 was/is, is there any point paying for it when the Mille exists?

The Mille is part of Assos’ “tiburu” range. More confusing phraseology but, think autumn and spring wear. It’s essentially a lightweight long sleeve jersey (and not a jacket) with a massive great windproof front. It’s something that should have a very narrowly defined temperature range but, like the S7, partner it right, get a base layer/gilet and it’s almost a 4 season piece given how rarely true winter now visits these parts.

Fit wise I have to digress from Assos’ claim that you buy the same size. That’s plainly wrong. So, where I take an XL in all of Assos’ tops I take a large in the Mille range. My view is that you size down. When I overlaid the XL Intermediate S7 on the L Mille they were the same size overall (ignore any differences shown below, I’ve moved the overlaid garments for comparison).

It departs from the previous design and utilises the asymmetric arm setup of the Mille summer jersey. They’re pretty much all black, but you can choose red, white or yellow arms. Or you can go all black, and, despite Assos’ new “profblack” range they won’t charge you a premium to be shorn of colour. Unlike it’s predecessor, whatever colour you choose, all the backs are black. That’s not as good for visibility, of course, but far better for avoiding muddy streaks. It’s a fairly standard setup. You can make out the windproof section here which is a slightly darker affair.

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And round the back it’s the usual 3 pocket with separate zipped pocket design. Reflective strips are good so there’s a good addition of visibility there. The pockets are deep and robust. I won’t deal with quality too much in this piece because, well, this is Assos. The branding is quite subtle overall, you’d not really know what it was until you looked really closely unless you were familiar with how Assos use that particular pattern effect.

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It’s pretty hard to review, this. In isolation it’s yet another winner. You could end it there and say that it’s brilliant. But it seems to me that this review has to consider why it exists alongside the more expensive one, is there something wrong with it?

So I set about seeing what the difference is. And primarily it’s all about that windproof front. It’s a hardier,  slightly thicker thing so is likely to be that bit more protective but also possibly a bit less breathable. If you look at the picture below the one on the right is the S7 and on the left the Mille. It’s a little less flexible in the hands but in use I didn’t find that it altered the fit at all and I couldn’t really discern any great difference in breathability. It’s interesting to note that the Mille is around 17g (yep, I weighed them) heavier than the S7 and it’s here that most of the weight occurs in my view. There’s no fancy material naming or stickers to tell you what proprietary windstopper is in use here. It’s just a windstopper.

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The waist termination is also a little different. There’s no separate articulation on the front of the Mille but the back shares a similar elastic band. It just works.

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The patterned structure at the rear is a more dense material than the S7 (right) but in practice feels pretty much the same. And the arms ditch the dual fabric approach with the same base material used in each segment.

Finally, the wrists. The new ones are fairly typical of most approaches to wrists nowadays, but, I have to say, I always loved the old ones and continue to think that the looser approach is a more successful one on this type of jersey. The arms feel like they might be slightly more closely cut now but it’s a very tiny difference if anything.

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So, it’s clear that there have been measures to cut costs and lower the RRP. Away from the windstopper the jacket is pretty much all the same material. The windstopper itself appears to be more basic in construction. I’ve been wearing it in the early morning temperatures back to back with the S7. They feel the same overall whatever the temperature is. It’s possible that the newer model is slightly hampered by higher temps on the afternoon ride home (you can easily ride these in 16-18 degrees temps) but, equally, it may be slightly better on colder mornings. Above all, it’s supremely comfortable, just like the old one.

Does that mean that there’s a place for the new one and does the old one justify that substantial premium? Well, it rather depends. There are elements of the old one that I prefer, the wrists are nicer and I like the symmetric sleeves but in all other respects the new one is just as good and, therefore, pretty much close to perfection. There’s no rocket science in Assos’ approach to making this garment. It’s not even brain surgery. You just take a decent windstopper layer and add some nice feeling fabric elsewhere. The neck section stands out as being particularly comfortable in this regard combining sufficient neck protection but also having a really nice next to skin feel. Elsewhere it’s the stuff of witchcraft, a fabric that’s nothing really special, whatever Assos call it, that works well in higher temps but can be suitably layered to stave off even those initially biting mornings. Chuck in a Falkenzahn gilet and you really are made.

Other manufacturers do similar things, the Gore Xenon Jersey/Jacket (beware, there are two types) extends the windproofing down the leading edge of the arm. It’s a really nice piece but, at RRP, the Mille is a better choice for me primarily because the fit is spot on. Rapha obviously do it a bit differently, the winter jersey (please could everyone just opt for a category that’s consistent) is heavy sports wool that is undoubtedly better first thing but will end up too hot as the weather warms. And I think that the beauty of this piece is that it’s got a really good temperature range.

So, there you are. If this is a successor to the S7 Intermediate then it’s a very worthy one indeed. That it isn’t a replacement is problematic because, aesthetics aside, I can’t really think of a good reason to spend more. And it isn’t just this piece that’s “budget” Assos, there’s a Mille winter jacket that replaces the Ij.shaquno. It’s a little bit unique in terms of looks (not quite a departure from the storm trooper aesthetic yet) but it’s certainly a cheaper winter jacket than we’ve come to expect from Assos. It looks very much like the Mille range is being positioned at normal cyclist sizes at much more reasonable prices. Budget Assos, who knew?

Praxis Works chainrings, a tidy upgrade

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I’m not even going to try to write 1000 words. So, just to say I have new chainrings from Praxis. These are the CX version but don’t worry, Praxis do something for everyone. So if you want a nicer crank, depending on what’s on there, these might be a good upgrade for you. Back to the product in a moment, but first the why.

I am power, it seems. So, trackstanding at roundabout a week or so ago and pulling off in too high a gear I appear to have bent my existing FSA chainrings. A fault? Bendy chainrings? Something stuck? Don’t know. Never had it happen before but, I have to say, I did find that when really stomping down on the pedals there was a bit of rubbing on the front mech so when I did manage to bend them and I mean really bend them (practically a 1/4 of the chainring was about 2-3mm out) I took the opportunity to source a replacement. Not awfully difficult. Find your BCD (bolt circle diameter, 110 in my case) find a 5 bolt then make your choice. I could have just bought an outer ring, that was all that was bent. I could have paid £20 but I couldn’t shake the feeling that anything that looked insubstantial would be insubstantial. So I did this instead.

Praxis make the stuff you need. From chainrings to cranks, a few cassettes and now some wheels. Of course, what they are really famous for is their bottom brackets and in particular the one that lets you convert (properly convert) a BB30 bottom bracket into something a bit more reliable. All three of my bikes have BB30 so I might be calling on that product in due course. As well as being the Klingon moon Praxis is  is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, embodied, or realised. So in their case that means making the best product of its type.

That doesn’t come cheap. The RRP for these chainrings is £120. Yep, £120 for two pieces of serrated metal. That’s a bit more than just buying a new chainset such as a SRAM Rival or Force. I didn’t do that for two reasons. The first is aesthetic, you can’t mix SRAM and Shimano. The second is more important. The Cannondale SI chainset is bloody lovely. It’s super stiff (unlike the rings attached to it) and very light indeed. It’s hard to do better than it. It’s also a bugger to take off without the right tools so I didn’t.

Installation of new chainrings is a piece of cake. Some guides say to take the chainset off the bikes. That’s ridiculous. You don’t even need to remove your chain, though that does make it a bit easier. Off come the bolts, on go the rings, and the bolts reattach. Cannondale have used chainring bolts with hex holes either side so simple allen keys do the job without needing a chainring bolt tool (effectively a slotted tool). There’s a guide if you really need it.

The rings are cold forged and made from 7075 T6 aluminium. You can read about the process here. Praxis claim that they’re stronger and tougher and better with chain forces. They are certainly noticeable robust. I actually like the industrial aesthetics of them and they look tough. The Levatime refers to Praxis’ desire for the ultimate shifting performance. Put simply most of that “one shot” forging takes care of the structure of the ring, the tooth profile and the ramping. There need for any subsequent machining is much reduced. The theory is that the ring is strong and will shift at least as good as what you took off (assuming what you took off is high level) or better that what was there before. If you’re taking off Dura Ace or Red, expect these to be as good. If you’re taking off a more reasonably priced set of rings expect the performance to be better. So there’s not going to be a eureka moment in some cases but in others you will be pleasantly surprised.

Much will also depend on what’s already on there. I’ve no doubt these would make my CAADX FSA Gossamer a bit better but that’s not the world’s greatest crankset. But the Cannondale SI is a great base on which to build and upgrading the rings that are on there is a bit of a no brainer. And in the absence of a proper supply of Cannondale spiderings it’s a really good choice indeed.

In use these have been spot on. Not only are they noticeably stiffer than what came off but the shifting quality is superb. That’s testament to the tooth profile and shift ramp. There’s no fuss or drama, they just get on with it. They are better than what was there before, even when those rings were not bent. Being all black the teeth will eventually turn a different colour to the rest of the rings but, hey, that’s always the case. In terms of longevity they look robust so should stand up to a season of CX abuse (which will yet again include the odd bit of beach racing). I’ll report back in due course.

Are they good value? Well, that depends. They’re certainly not cheap but the drive train is one of the more important bits and good shifting is of paramount performance in my view. Depending on what you’ve got or what you’ve worn out these are a really good option.

So, the Supersix gets them next when I decide whether to go compact or not. And the road version are really bloody gorgeous.

(945 words. See, I can do it)

Fulcrum Racing 5 DB

It’s a measure of the success of the disc wheel market that the Racing 5 now sees a disc brake version. There’s a Campagnolo Zonda disc coming soon so expect there to be a Racing 3 disc that mirrors it. Throw in a full carbon Quattro db and there’s really something for most budgets. So, within a single manufacturer the market has really exploded. And elsewhere it’s becoming a veritable feast. Even the carbon disc aero market (yes that’s a thing) is taking off. So whatever the UCI think, discs are here to stay.

I’ve had a lot of disc wheels now ranging from stock to handbuilt. The Pro Lite Revo I run are probably the lightest (a shade over 1600g) and to date have performed very well. I still hate the fact that tyre changing is an operation rather than merely a chore. But such is the nature of the tubeless wheelset.

The Fulcrum Racing 5 db are not tubeless but they are wide so you get that nicer shaped tyre on your rim with that bit more grip and and security. It’s not significant but it is nice to have. Spec wise they’re nothing special. Their 27.5mm depth is neither aero or shallow. Their 1715g weight (they are as claimed) isn’t light but it’s actually lighter than my Fulcrum Racing Quattro which have proved to be quite excellent. Spoke wise they’re really designated as a road wheel I guess given their 21 spokes front and rear. The spokes are stainless steel and double butted. Good enough for road. Good enough for cross? We’ll see, they certainly feel laterally stiff and I’ve yet to trouble them with flex. And given that I managed to bend an FSA chainring on my SuperX (we’ll talk about that in my review of that bike) then there doesn’t seem to be any strength issues here. The spokes are laced in Fulcrum’s usual 2:1 ratio with more spokes on the drive side.

You can argue all day long about whether Fulcrum’s use of 2:1 is necessary. But the main point of worry might be the lack of spokes on the braking side. 7 in fact, just 7 to stop all those forces coming through. An issue potentially exacerbated by the sheer strength of the brakes I’d partnered them with, the Shimano R685 hydraulics. Anyway, more of that later. But the rims are also asymmetric which allows, it is claimed, better balancing of spoke tensions. Even more interestingly the spokes are 2 cross on the front (following accepted school of thought) but radial on the disc side on the rear which flatly contravenes it.

The Racing 5 is unusual in offering a number of different setups. You can choose between variants of quick release or bolt thru and 6 bolt discs or “centrelock.” Save that Fulcrum don’t call it that, they call it AFS which is short for axial fixing system. And that’s the version I bought, quick release with AFS partnered with Shimano RT86 Ice Tec rotors. You can see what the setup looks like below.

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So, why not centrelock? Because, bloody standards, Fulcrum have decided to come up with a different take. Whereas Shimano use a lockring that screws internally into the hub using a cassette lock ring tool Fulcrum instead use a lock ring that threads externally over the hub and don’t tell you what tool you need to do them up. The video below tells you how to do it but not what tool it is.

Well, I’m happy to report that it’s the tool I thought, namely a Shimano Hollowtech bottom bracket tool. It does need quite a lot of torque. And I mean a lot otherwise there is some rocking of the brake. Overall I like the centrelock system. It’s far quicker and the capacity to round off one or more of 6 bolts is removed. And with that you also avoid the need for drilling out that rounded off bolt (something I have done a few times).

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It’s quite a nice looking wheel with some bold graphics. If you want to remove the stickers you can making them a bit more for everyone than the Pro Lite Revo. The stickers probably won’t stand up to too much racing and will start to look scruffy but for road use they are fine.

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I initially used them to test the Schwalbe S-One and getting tyres onto them is pretty easy. Indeed, Fulcrum are one of the better manufacturers out there in that respect. I could get the tyres on by hand only.

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To take care of those braking forces the flanges on the hub are massive. That’s primarily evident in the front where the flange only needs to be large on the braking side and not the drive side. They’re nice hubs as well with a gloss sheen. You can remove the stickers that remind you of the 2:1 ratio if you want.

So far these have proved to be excellent wheels. In terms of any lateral flexibility I really can’t detect anything awry when out of the saddle and sprinting. Indeed, I’ve been using the SuperX as a fast road bike recently to see if I can ascertain its limits. With these wheels and tyres it flies and I’ve put some pretty high average speeds in.

In terms of braking, despite the limited number of spokes on the braking side I simply cannot detect any deflection at all. That’s interesting because, with the more spoked Pro Lite attached to my Condor Bivio with XT brakes there was a small amount of deflection that I could see. As I alluded to above the R685 are exceptionally powerful brakes and braking on the Fulcrum is an extremely confident experience.

Of course braking isn’t the only thing to consider about wheels but I make no apologies for prioritising it for a disc wheel. So what about everything else?

Well, I could claim that they “spin up well” and are “significantly faster than (insert.” But that would be rubbish. The bearings are lovely, turn the bike upside down and they go on and on, so of course they “spin up well.” But short of shot bearings so do most wheels. Does the 100g deficit over my Pro Lite mean that they are slower wheels on the flat, that they need more power or that they’re less good up hills? No. Not in the slightest. They feel much like my Racing Quattro in fact. Good quality wheels that ride well. Not the last word in weight and I guess you could make some improvements if you shed 300g or so. But in the ballpark of wheels that weigh 1550g up to 1800g or so I’m not sure that the benefits of the margins aren’t overstated.

What they do appear to be is a plush wheel that, partnered with the Schwalbe S-One, provide a nice ride. Again, the SuperX has something to contribute to that so let’s just say that it all works nicely as a package.

Price? Well, that’s probably the only remotely contentious area. RRP is £349.99. If there’s someone somewhere on the planet who paid that, I salute you. But it’s likely that no-one has. Shop around and you can get them really cheaply. Certainly less than £250 if you spend a few minutes and, if you’re really canny, as I am, at around £210. And that’s a good price if you concentrate on the headline of 1715g. There are cheaper wheels, such as Wiggle’s Cosine Disc. There are those that cost more and save a few grams. Decide what’s important. And the choice is only likely to improve.

I’m pretty much past weight as a measurement within a certain range. My Samsung phone weighs over 150g. Pick yours up. Imagine that weight being added to your wheel. Do you think it will make any real difference?

I really like these wheels. They look nice, the DO spin really well (!) and they work very well in my setup. I may or may not give them a go for cross and if I do I will report back. But they’ve impressed me and they will be the posh wheel of choice on the SuperX on the road for now. If you can shop around, price match and get them for a good price then they’re a great alternative in a crowded marketplace.

Redwhite: the Bibs

As I’ve already said Redwhite have one job, making bibshorts. And in my previous review of the Race version I was blown away. Well, they have another job now and that’s to convince me of the performance of their endurance version given how happy I was with the racier ones!

Redwhite are still a young company with a limited range, but there’s good news. A ladies variant is currently out there being tested in the wild and hopefully will be on the shelves very soon. And they’re taking on board user feedback about winter clothing so I hope to see something wintery from them as well. And given the high regard which I have for their products I hope it’s this year!

If the Race bibs that I tested are so good you might wonder why on earth you’d buy the endurance version anyway. I’m quite happy wearing the former for just about everything, they’ve become my go to posh pair of shorts. But Redwhite explain the difference between the two here. Essentially the answer lies in the chamois, in the race a little lighter, a little less padding and a slightly different overall position. In the bibs it’s placed for full on comfort. Is it possible to have something that’s too niche?

So, first things first, the design. They are very red. Very very red in fact, but, in practice, unless you’re wearing the most see through of white jerseys the red mesh is invisible. The branding is subtle with just the logo on the right leg. There’s also a bit less branding than the Race version which has branding on both legs. In terms of look the lycra is more matte than shiny which is something I also like. As far as black shorts go the design is a good one in my view. If you’re OCD about colour matching then you might be concerned but red and white are pretty uncontroversial colours for the more anal amongst us. Anyway, get over it, they’re called Redwhite!

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Once more I’d say there’s nothing overtly technical about these shorts. It’s good old mesh straps stitched to multi panel lycra shorts. The lycra is once again supplied by MITI of Italy. Indeed, I’d thought about writing a longer piece here about the deconstruction of my bib short wardrobe. What’s still amazing is how different they all can be and yet, for me at least, they all work in very similar ways. It’s true that the lycra can differ in look, feel and compression, that the grippers differ in form and function and that straps are a hotly debated topic. But, as I’ve said before, if they work, they work. And Redwhite seem to have nailed it from the off.

The stomach area is very anti-Assos and cut quite high. Once again I prefer the security of this approach though after shedding even more timber over the summer it’s perhaps not quite the important issue that it once was. The cut of shorts in this area is hotly debated but I can’t say that any high cut has ever made me suffer from any lack of cooling. The fit is just perfection with no bunching, no wrinkling and just the right amount of snugness.

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The straps are quite lovely made from a breathable mesh with black edging. There’s no race pocket at the rear, no fancy laser cutting but it all just works perfectly. They’re light and airy and, crucially, entirely unobtrusive.

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The leg grippers are the same as those found on the Race. They look vaguely leathery (at least to the camera) but feel fantastic in use. In terms of their compression and fit (I’m wearing a large) for me they hit the sweet spot of something that keeps you in place without producing sausage thighs. They’re a fairly wide gripper and produce a nice contrast to the rest of the short. In terms of leg length they’re one of the longer pairs but certainly far from the longest. In that respect they probably once again hit the sweet spot.

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Round the back and there’s not a lot to report other than the useful addition of a some reflective tabs. There’s flat-lock stitching all round and, as we’ve come to expect from Redwhite, the quality is fantastic. But, of course, it’s the chamois that everyone’s come to see. And it’s a winner.

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It’s a fairly substantial affair in terms of width and length, it’s very much the all day sportive chamois in that respect. There’s the nice addition of a kuku penthouse-esque affair up front to reduce chafing. If you prod the chamois manually it feels quite soft but that doesn’t appear to translate into a lack of support whilst riding or any lack of longevity. The chamois is triple density with each variation being sited in the place where it counts.

The questions that are to be answered are whether they’re any good and which of their shorts you should choose. The answer to the first question is easy. They’re brilliant. They’re also great value. Depending on where you purchase, whether that’s direct from Redwhite or somewhere like Always Riding you’re going to be paying around £110. Yes, that’s premium but in the wide world of what premium is it’s a bit of a bargain to be honest and on par with an entry level pair of Assos.

In use you put them on, ride a long distance, have cake, go the long way home. You don’t think about your shorts during this because they just do the job. You may occasionally glance down and cogitate that the design makes your legs look lush but that’s it. No fuss, no drama, just performance. They wash well, they appear to last in the rides I’ve done to date with no bobbling or seam degradation. They’re as good as anything that the big boys make. Arguably it’s not hard to make bibshorts, the star is generaly the chamois. But in that chamois Redwhite have a very big star indeed.

So these or the Race? Well, those are £110 as well so it’s a straight choice rather than a financial one. If your riding is social, endurance, sportive etc then I’d say go for the extra comfort of the Bibs. If you hoon around then get the Race but don’t be surprised if they’re fantastic shorts on the coffee and cake run either. It’s just that if you really want to push on they suit that task a little more. Thing is, in terms of premium pricing, these are pretty cheap anyway, if you can say such a thing. So if you split your times between disciplines why not have both?

In the realms of still only having one thing to get right Redwhite are still nailing it. Bring on the winter stuff.

The road nicer travelled: Schwalbe S-One

Note: the S-One will continue in Schwalbe’s 2017 range but will become known as the G-One Speed instead. Same tyre, same spec, same 30c width. The G-One Allround continues the old G-One (35c) range. Both tyres will gain some other stablemates though such as 650b versions and non tubeless. There’s also a new X-One called the “bite” for when you really need to cut through that mud. In the writer’s view Schwalbe are really innovating and creating something for everyone. The others really are playing catch up. Some of them aren’t even playing.

These S-One have been a while coming. Not quite the proverbial hen’s teeth I am glad to confirm but certainly gold dust. And I have to say, on the evidence of my first few rides on them, with good reason.

You’ll recall in my previous piece that I was an enormous fan of Schwalbe’s X and G one tyres. The former are still my off road tyre of choice and have been utterly superb. Indeed, since I wrote the initial review I’ve not suffered a visit from you know who and haven’t even needed to top up the tubeless fluid. The latter are smooth and cosseting but tough where they need to be. They’ll get you most places but, as fast as they are, they might be considered a little OTT for everyday riding. Might, there’s not a lot in it and I’ve done club runs where I held the front on them. For a 35c tyre they’re very quick indeed.

So are the 30c width S-One the ultimate all weather, do everything, keep up with everyone tyre? You know what, if you can fit them, they might just be.

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For a long time the choice of tyres has been relatively simple. You stick some nice ones on in the summer then something like the Gatorskin (shudder), 4 Seasons (better) etc in the winter. In the summer you go narrower. In the winter you go wider. Those are the rules, in general terms. But I get the sense that Schwalbe don’t really care about the rules anymore. There are still performance tyres such as the Pro One and if you’re off up the Alps or if you just don’t have the clearance then those are your better bet. But if you just want to ride and ride and ride then there’s something in Schwalbe’s range for everyone.

It’s fair to say that bike makers are getting a bit more cynical but also a bit more practical. So if we ignore what is a gravel/adventure/cyclocross/road disc/whatever we’re calling them this week bike in terms of marketing there does seem to be some recognition that in some countries summer never really arrives, roads are never really maintained and riding is a bit more fun if you don’t have to worry about what tyres you have. I’m firmly of the view that Schwalbe have taken a quite substantial lead in that respect. A lot of other manufacturers distinguish between performance and commuting/leisure. But not Schwalbe. Yes, there are still the commuting classics such as the Marathon, but even those are getting a significant makeover. But click on “road” tyres and the choice is extensive. It reflects the fact that what one person might call a road is not necessarily what another person might do. And the things we can do, from the Cardiff Roubaix to the Valley Cat. The road less travelled is en vogue now and we need the kit to do it.

Like the G and X One, the S-One are  designed to be run as tubeless tyres (though the range now has non tubeless versions as well). Tubeless means tougher beads at the side and a bit more of a robust construction. You can still run them with tubes and, for the first few rides, I did just that. Why? It shapes the tyres and gets them ready to sit on a wheel, gives them a bit of a stretch, sorts them out. After I’d done that I whipped out the tubes and did the usual tubeless setup. As Schwalbe promise on their packaging they really are easy on. Not piece of cake on, the Pro Lite Revo continue to be a little frustrating with their difficulty level, but not awfully troubling. When fitted to a traditional rim (the Fulcrum Racing 5 LG with tubes) they went on with hands only and didn’t even need levers. On both the Fulcrum and Pro Lite the tyres came up marginally wider than 30mm but not significantly so. That’s to be expected given the nature of those wheels wider rims.

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In terms of the range the X-One might be described as knobbly. The G-One pimply and the S-One a bit like those raised patterns that you get on some table tennis paddles. There is little height and little space so the grip is really determined by the tyre as a whole (and its width) rather than the nature of the tread pattern. If you want to do serious green laning then get the X-One, if you want to go far off the beaten path get the G-One. But the S-One will do a great job of being off road, it just depends how far off it. And because the tread pattern is not too extreme, the real talent of the S-One is just how good they are on the road. Not just good for a wide, treaded tyre, as good as any road tyre I’ve used full stop. And that’s where the physics comes in again. You don’t expect it. You know, because it’s been tested to destruction, that wider tyres are coming in as better. But once they get beyond 28c you tend to think of them as becoming less aero and less quick. It actually doesn’t seem to hold though. Something like the 37c Vittoria Hyper Voyager are rapid and these S-One follow suit.

It’s not a light tyre coming in at 320-330g. But chuck away your tube, add 50ml of sealant and you’re looking at something that weighs not a dissimilar weight to a race tyre plus standard tube. And that’s a 30c tyre remember so these are actually pretty lightweight indeed. When Chavanel came 5th in the Paris Roubaix he was riding the S-One.

In terms of price they’re not cheap. £56.99 RRp and even hunting down discount is pretty difficult because they’re so hard to find. They need to be good because that’s some investment.

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The S-One are equipped with Schwalbe’s V-One protection so should offer much better than average protection from the puncture fairy. Not up there with the Marathon, clearly, but a very durable tyre. I haven’t had any issues with the S-One in the time that they’ve been on so far and I’m also happy to report that I’ve never had a visit from the fairy in relation to the X-One or G-One either and both have been quite significantly mistreated off road in some pretty harsh terrain. There’s no reason to suggest that these won’t be a hardy and durable tyre. It’s quite clear that eventually there will be some central channel wear and that those knobbles will flatten down a little but you should get thousands of miles from them if their stable mates are anything to go by.

In terms of rolling resistance and grip Schwalbe claim that these are 5 1/2 out of 6(!) for rolling resistance, 5 for on road grip and 2 1/2 for off road grip. I think that’s about right. In terms of rolling resistance they are simply incredible. In the entire range of tyres they’re beaten on road only by the Pro One. Without actual testing it’s impossible to say how they do in terms of wattage but I’d imagine they’d fall quite happily in the 11-13 watt category. On road they feel not just fast but as fast as any road tyre I’ve ever used with the exception of the Michelin Power but those are true race day tyres and not really for riding every day because they’re a bit fragile.

And that sheer speed, of course, feels hugely counterintuitive. These are 30mm wide tyres with some knobs on, you lose some aero (allegedly) and you run them at lower squidgy PSI (though you can run them a bit harder if you want). And they absolutely fly. Coming back from 2 weeks off the bike following my holiday I managed to average 20.5mph on a route where such speeds would put me in the top 10 of all attempts (and I’ve done that route hundreds of times). There’s no sensation at all of needing to get up to speed or of the tyres holding you back. And when you coast along they sing.

The grip in the corners is incredible. Indeed that’s where the wider tyre has some advantage. On a downhill section involving some serious leaning through the roundabouts I was practically getting a knee down such was my angle of attack. I’ve not yet tried them in monsoon conditions but in the damp they are utterly predictable and continue to grip the road tenaciously. The ride, at suitable PSI, is just cosseting. Crap road surfaces are smoothed out and road buzz lessened.

They’re not for everyone or everything. They won’t fit my Supersix and, to be honest, they’d look a little incongruous in that setting. But if you have the right setup, your endurance bike, your gravel bike, your do it all bike, then have a go. Look beyond the knobbles and the width, look beyond that slight bit of extra weight and fit them. They are utterly worth it. In terms of longevity so far so good. There are no cuts, no marks. I’ll report back on how long they last because this is going to be the winter tyre of choice for me now. Yep, winter. Winter is coming apparently. Sigh.