I need to be honest and say that the first Ridleys I saw didn’t impress me. They seemed to be long on stylish industrial design and short on engineering. It wasn’t uncommon to encounter a Ridley frame that might weigh 1400 grams. Oof. I can get that from titanium. But in the last two years the company has made huge strides.
These are some of the smallest seatstays I’ve seen on a bike not sporting a Cervelo decal. I’m told the frame weight for a 56 is 750g. Honestly, there aren’t a lot of companies achieving that.
This may be the smallest fork I’ve seen from Ridley, but I’m told it gives up none of the crisp handling for which Ridleys are known.
Sugoi is doing seriously interesting work in outerwear. While their jerseys and shorts that I’ve worn have been very good, if not category leaders, what they are doing in jackets may prove to be the company’s lasting strength. I’ve seen tons of convertible jackets. Every one of them seemed like the genius solution in the trade show booth. Ultimately, they have all disappointed, though some less than others.
The Versa jacket ($120) takes an unusual approach in that the sleeves are removable to convert into a vest thanks not to snaps, not zipper, but magnets. There’s no chance of tearing fabric as you pull the sleeves off. And should you need to slip the sleeves back on, based on the demonstration I saw, the magnets do a pretty impressive job of finding their mates. I’ll be reviewing this in the fall.
Necessity, greet the maternal urge. I suspect that Sugoi’s leaps in outerwear design is due much to the fact that the company is based in Vancouver, though having the resources of Dorel behind them doesn’t hurt at all. How often have you encountered a jacket that featured some sort of stow bag only to pack it away and then wonder what the hell you do with it because your pockets are already full? I’ve seen many puffball jackets pack into the size of a golf ball—for as long as you squeeze them—only to inflate to the size of a grapefruit the moment you let go.
The RS jacket ($80) from Sugoi takes an unusual approach to the stuff sack by turning the stuff sack into a seat bag. Can you strap the bag around an existing bag? I think so, but I can’t yet say for certain. On the plus side, the bag is big enough you could stuff a few items in there if your pockets are weighing you down. An strategy for folks in the Pacific Northwest or other frequently drizzly places would be stuff a tube and CO2 cartridge in the sack and leave it strapped to your bike, and when you need the jacket just slip the tube and CO2 into on of your jersey pockets.
Camelbak has reintroduced the Podium Ice bottle. This was the bottle popular for people riding en fuego, or at RAGBRAI, based on my experience. They are said to keep the bottle’s contents cold four times as long as a conventional bottle and twice as long as their Podium Chill bottle. They should be hitting retailers now.
Camelbak is also introducing a new series of packs aimed at enduro and all-mountain riders. This one is called the Kudu and it includes a padded panel made from viscoelastic foam that runs the length of the pack. It comes in two sizes (12 and 18 liters) and features Camelbak’s popular NV ventilation system. Because this is meant to offer protection as well as gear capacity, it features a larger waist belt plus two sternum straps in order to better secure the pack in position. The Kudu also features an array of straps and pockets so that you can carry pads and a helmet on the pack. Handy for those who pedal a road uphill rather than shuttling.
The tape will come in a number of colors and features a textured finish for grip whether you wear gloves or not.