Flow’s Fresh Produce | New Sunnies, Cramp Solutions, Fresh Kicks & Luscious Leather

Greetings fellow Froth-a-trons! Hard to believe, but this is actually the first edition of Flow’s Fresh Produce for 2021. We promise you that we haven’t been dragging our heels since the last time we caught up though. Sure, a 7-week post-Xmas hangover seems entirely plausible, but we won’t attempt to use that as an excuse. Instead, with deliveries from the post-people having been a little lighter and slower than usual in the New Year, it’s only this week that we’ve been able to take stock of all the new gear that’s turned up at Flow HQ. And do we have an eclectic mix of gear for you folks here today!

We’ve also been stupendously busy covering a load of bike news, including the announcement from German brand Canyon that it is now offering its full e-MTB range to the Australian market. That includes our snazzy new Spectral:ON CF 8 test bike, as well as the arrival of the brand new Torque:ON – a long travel beast of an e-MTB. There have been some exciting developments on the destination front too – you may have also heard the news about Tasmania’s next big mountain biking destination, and we also pulled out the detective outfit to find out what’s going on with the $41 million Wangetti Trail. A curious story that one!

On top of that, we’ve wrapped up some long-term test bikes, with juicy reviews dropping on the super-fast Trek Supercaliber, Commencal’s muscly Meta TR, and the outrageously good value Polygon Siskiu T8. We’ve also been spending some quality time on the new Merida eOne-Sixty, which features some big changes including a new Shimano EP8 motor.

For something a little different, be sure to check out our tech deep dive into a custom Trek Slash that a fellow Flow Frother has built as his own personal bike. And if you’re looking to freshen up your ride without investing in a whole new bike, don’t miss our Top 8 upgrades on how to make your XC bike a confidence-inspiring trail ripper. Lots of detail and useful tips in both of those articles!

Now, with y’all now up to speed with what’s been happening at Flow HQ, it’s now time to jump in with both feet into the freshest edition of Fresh Produce. Grab yourself a brew, kick back, and enjoy!

Shimano Technium Ridescape Glasses

shimano technium ridescape glasses
Shimano has released a new eyewear range, with a load of snazzy options that cost considerably less than the Oakleys, Smiths and 100% glasses of the world.

Shimano has relaunched its eyewear range under the new ‘Ridescape’ banner, with new frame options, new lenses, and a much simpler way of determining the right option for your riding. The Ridescape lenses themselves feature clever colour and contrast-boosting filters, which are designed to provide you with less noise, clearer vision and more vibrancy – not dissimilar to the Oakley Prizm and Smith ChromaPop lens technology.

Across Shimano’s eyewear range there are five different lens tints available, including Ridescape OR (Off Road), Ridescape ES (Extra Sunny), Ridescape CL (Cloudy), Ridescape GR (Gravel) & Ridescape Road (RD).

Shown here is the mountain bike-oriented Technium, in a very vivid orange colour option. These feature the Ridescape OR lens, which according to Shimano, helps to reduce glare from patchy sunlight when riding in and out of the shade. We’ve found they also do well to boost greens and browns on the trail, while providing a warmer and more vibrant colour profile.

The full coverage frame is made from Grilamid TR-90, and it features soft rubber nose pads and non-slip temple tips that give a nice and secure fit. The one-piece lenses are also interchangeable. Included with the glasses is a pair of clear lenses for night riding or really grim winter days, and they come with a soft pouch and hard case. So far we’ve been really impressed with these, particularly when comparable glasses can often cost 2-3 times as much.

Shimano Equinox Ridescape Glasses

shimano equinox ridescape glasses
New for 2021, the Equinox uses a half-frame design for a clearer view. Shown here with the Ridescape OR lens that’s designed specifically for mountain biking.

Whereas the Techniums carry over an existing frame design, the Equinox glasses shown here are a brand new model for Shimano. These feature a half-rim design and a huge wraparound lens that offers a broader and less interrupted field of vision compared to the Techniums. Downsides of the half-rim design? The lenses are less protected from drop damage, and there’s more chance of the lens edge cutting into your cheek during a hard crash. And yes, we have seen that happen before!

The Equinox glasses we’ve been riding with feature a matte black frame, along with the Ridescape OR (Off-Road) lens option. They get rubberised temple tips and a soft adjustable nose piece that can be flipped around to fine-tune the fit on your shnoz. As with all Shimano Ridescape glasses, the Ridescape OR lens is claimed to offer full UV 400 protection, and it features a hydrophobic coating to better shed water and mud, as well as an anti-scratch treatment for durability. The lens is also interchangeable, and you get a clear lens included with the glasses.

Shimano Aerolite Ridescape Glasses

shimano aerolite ridescape glasses
So shiny! The Ridescape ES lens ups the protection and anti-glare filters for really bright days out.

And finally we’ve got the premium Aerolite P glasses, this time with a very shiny Ridescape ES (Extra Sunny) lens option. The red mirror finish is claimed to to reduce eye strain by minimising light transmission and shielding your peepers on super bright days out. It still has that lovely contrast and colour boost filter that the Ridescape OR lenses have, albeit with more protection for those out on open, un-shaded roads/gravel/singletrack. And the field of vision is insanely good.

As with the Equinox, the Aerolite P is a new frame and lens shape for Shimano, with an enormous 7-base curved wraparound profile and a rimless design that affords near-uninterrupted panoramic views. They’re quite light at just 23.4g, and the arms attach to the lens via ‘ultrasonic welding’ rather than using glue or a press-fit. That does mean the lenses aren’t interchangeable, though other tints are available. You also get soft adjustable nose pads, rubberised temple tips, and the same anti-scratch and hydrophobic lens treatment as the other Ridescape lenses.

Shimano XC7 SPD Shoes

shimano xc701 spd shoes
The latest XC7 shoes have updated to dual BOA dials and a beautifully supple upper for more foot-hugging comfort.

Shimano has also sent us in some of its latest SPD mountain bike shoes in the form of the SH-XC701. Also known as the XC7, these suave kicks are designed for XC racing, trail and gravel riding. Despite being $150 cheaper than the super fancy XC9 shoes, you’re still getting dual BOA ratchet dials (the previous generation XC7 only had a single BOA dial), a supple synthetic leather upper, Michelin rubber outsole and a carbon fibre-reinforced nylon midsole. According to Shimano, they’re not quite as stiff as the XC9 shoes (9 vs 11 on Shimano’s arbitrary shoe stiffness scale), which may actually make them the more comfortable and practical choice for more riders.

Bontrager BITS Integrated MTB Tool

A clever storage solution from Bontrager, this is called the BITS Integrated MTB Tool. It’s designed to occupy the otherwise dead space inside your fork’s steerer tube, while giving you quick and easy access to a 10-function multi-tool. The multi-tool sits snugly inside a cartridge that can be accessed at the top of your stem, and gives you 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 mm hex bits along with a Torx T25 tool and flat-head screwdriver. The carriage also features an integrated chain breaker and storage for quick links.

If you’re adding it to your current setup, you’ll need to remove the star-fangled nut from within the steerer tube. By using a threaded base that locks into the base of the steerer tube, the tool then allows you to preload your headset bearings as required – you’ll just be tightening the main bolt from the underside of the fork crown, rather than via a traditional stem cap. Worth noting that the BITS tool isn’t compatible with the new Fox 38 (due to the oval-shaped steerer tube), and forks with carbon steerer tubes are also a no-go.

Peaty’s Tubeless Valves

peaty's tubeless valves
Looking to add a dash of colour to your bike? Peaty’s has collaborated with Chris King to create a rainbow spectrum of anodised tubeless valves.

Made from high quality 7075 alloy, Peaty’s Tubeless Valves are available in a variety of snazzy anodised colour options, including the orange pair you see here. The valves are designed to fit all tubeless rims out there, and they feature a large, soft-rubber base that’s also replaceable. The removable valve cores are also replaceable, and in case you need to solve a leaky tyre and tighten them mid-ride, the valve cores double as integrated valve core tools. Neat!

Peaty’s Loam Foam Bike Wash

Also in from Peaty’s are some much needed cleaning products to help jazz up the current test fleet. We’ve got a 1 litre bottle of the Loam Foam bike wash, which is claimed to be a professional-grade and biodegradable cleaner that’s safe to use on all bike surfaces, including suspension components and disc brakes. Lightly hose down your bike down with water first, spray it with Loam Foam, wait for five minutes, then blast off with clean water. Once the spray bottle is empty, you can replace with Loam Foam Concentrate, which can be diluted in water to help reduce total plastic consumption.

Peaty’s Foaming Drivetrain Degreaser

peaty's foaming bike degreaser
Spray directly onto your cassette while winding the chain backwards to build up a layer of degreasing foam.

For removing caked-on grease and dirt from your filthy drivetrain, Peaty’s has something a little stronger in the Foaming Drivetrain Degreaser. The degreasing solution is also biodegradable, and it’s designed to be sprayed directly onto your cassette, chain, chainring and jockey wheels. Once you’ve built up a layer of foam, Peaty’s recommends either running the chain through the gears to help agitate the more stubborn filth (if you’re cleaning your bike in a workstand), or simply using a separate brush to give it all a good scrub. Let the solution sit for two minutes, then blast away with fresh water. Shown here is the smaller 500 ml bottle, though 1 litre bottles are also available too.

Sendhit Scratch Cover Fork Stanchion Repair Kit

Ever picked your body and bike up after a wild crash, glad to know that you haven’t busted up any bones, but shattered to discover a horrifying scratch on the uppers of your lovely new fork? Unfortunately it’s not a totally uncommon event, and usually a scratch on your fork, shock or dropper post stanchion will result in increased wear and damage to the bushings and seals that will be regularly sliding over it, while also allowing for more dirt and grime to make its way down past the main wiper seal.

Rather than putting up with the ongoing damage, or having to replace the CSU assembly, here’s a clever little repair kit from the French crew at Sendhit. Comprising of a file to de-burr the scratch, high-strength epoxy resin to fill in the cavity, and a sanding block to smooth off the hardened resin, the Scratch Cover kit also comes with all the little tools you need to carry out the repair in your home workshop. The kit is available in black or transparent options, depending on the colour of your stanchions, and Sendhit has a neat video on its website to guide you through the process.

Maxxis Rekon Race EXO Tyres

maxxis rekon race exo 120tpi 29x2.35in tyres
Destined for some back-to-back wheel testing, the Maxxis Rekon Race is one of our favourite all-round XC tyres, particularly in this 2.35in dual compound flavour.

We’ve just received some fresh rubber from Maxxis – a pair of Rekon Race tyres in the plump 2.35in size. These feature a supple 120 TPI casing, EXO sidewall reinforcement, and dual compound rubber. They’re a fair bit cheaper than the 3C options from Maxxis, though in our experience the Rekon Race tyres are plenty grippy and offer excellent durability too. Confirmed weight is 762-770g for our test pair. These are destined for a set of wheels that we’ll be back-to-back testing with a comparable wheelset setup with exactly the same tyres, in order to more easily isolate the difference in ride quality between the two wheels.

Precision Hydration Tablets

Not sure how much salt you’re sweating on a hot ride? Precision Hydration has a Sweat Test for that, and three different drink formulas to match.

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but it’s bloody warm out there at the moment. For many riders, that means getting the life sucked out of you during a hot summer’s ride, along with the chance of being subjected to annoying and potentially painful cramps (either during the ride, or around 3am in the morning, much to the horror of everyone else in your house).

To tackle such a problem, Precision Hydration takes a unique approach with its electrolyte-based sports drink. Each product is available in three different strengths: 500, 1000 and 1500. The number refers to the milligrams of sodium per litre that you’ll achieve when the powder/tablet is diluted in the correct amount of water. Why different strengths? Because different humans sweat different amounts. Some of us sweat a lot of moisture, but not much salt. Some of us sweat a tonne of salt (ever get crispy white helmet straps and nasty white marks on your jersey?) without sweating a lot of moisture. The idea with Precision Hydration is to match your intake with what your body is losing, and it has a handy online guide to help you work out how much sodium you’re losing in every litre of sweat.

Shown above is the tablet option – you can buy a tube of 10-15, with each tablet dissolving in 500ml of water to create an effervescent drink with a mild citrus flavour. In addition to sodium, each dissolved tablet completes the electrolyte profile with potassium, calcium and magnesium too.

Precision Hydration Packets

Each sachet is mixed with 500ml of water, and either gives you 500, 1000 or 1500 milligrams of sodium to match your sweat output.

You can also get Precision Hydration in sachet form, though the formula is slightly different to the low-calorie effervescent tablets. Once diluted in 500ml of water, the electrolyte drink delivers a 3% carbohydrate solution, which works out to be 15.4-17.5g of carbs per serve, giving you a greater energy intake. You have the option of 500, 1000 and 1500 mg/L concentrations, depending on how much of a sweater you are.

Precision Hydration Electrolyte Capsules

Can’t guarantee this won’t look suss at the feed station.

Going one step further, the Electrolyte Capsules are designed to get sodium back into your body as quickly and as easily possible during a racing situation. These are particularly useful if you’re coming across feed zones out on a racecourse, and only have water to rely on. Each capsule contains 250mg of sodium and 125mg of potassium, and Precision Hydration recommends taking 1-3 capsules for every 500ml of water you’d consume during a ride or race beyond 90 minutes long.

Flow MTB x Lucky Straps Leather Camera Strap

flow lucky leather camera strap
Ooh custom collab gear!

As you may or may not know, our Tech Editor Wil is based in Bendigo in Victoria, which is the same town as chic camera strap brand Lucky Straps. Lucky Straps co-owner, Justin Castles, is a gun photographer, and has been shooting with Flow over the past few months – you’ll have seen his slick riding photo and video work in the Specialized Stumpjumper, the Canyon Exceed, Pivot Mach 6 and Trek Supercaliber reviews.

Just before Xmas, Wil got chatting with Justin about creating some custom collab goodies, specifically an embossed leather camera strap for our fearless leader Mick Ross. Lucky Straps offers this custom service for those who want to add a personal touch, and it involves getting a logo machined out of a chunk of alloy, which is then pressed into the leather at around 140°C to permanently emboss the logo into the surface. It’s subtle, but suuuper nice. Shown here is the standard size leather camera strap in the Classic Chestnut Brown leather.

Flow MTB x Lucky Straps Leather Mouse Pad

As well as camera straps, Lucky Straps also sells a load of other lovely leather goods, including belts, wallets, journals, guitar straps, and these snazzy mouse pads. Wil has been resting his computer mouse on a piece of cardboard for the past six months, and as cool as that is, he decided it was time to finally get a proper mouse pad, and went with this Natural Brown Leather option. Given the Flowgo was already made and on hand, we were able to watch the embossing process in the Bendigo store, which was rad!

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