Happy New Year, dear readers, and welcome to the first 2022 edition of First Look Friday.
As is customary at the turn of the year, we’ve been looking back over the last 12 months and ahead to what’s in store for the world of bikes.
This week, we’ve seen digital writer Stan Portus’s Gear of the Year 2021 and technical editor-in-chief Robin Weaver’s Gear of the Year 2021. The BikeRadar team have also placed their bets on the 7 road and gravel trends for 2022 – Shimano 105 Di2, anyone?
Elsewhere, Simon von Bromley has let us in on his (typically fastidious) chain habits, explaining why he waxes his chains and how to wax your own.
Pro Stealth Curved Team saddle
I boldly declared the Pro Stealth to be my favourite ever saddle in a love letter I penned to it back in 2020.
The original saddle has a broad, flat and short overall shape. This is great for most riding, but some riders who favour an aggressive position prefer a saddle with a rounder profile.
The Pro Stealth Curved is designed specifically for those riders.
It has a distinctive curved profile on the wings, which Pro claims “facilitates comfortable left and right movement”. The nose of the saddle is also slightly narrower than the regular saddle to help reduce pressure.
The Stealth Curved is available in two different options. The Team spec saddle pictured here pairs a carbon-reinforced polymer shell with oval carbon rails and weighs 167g.
The cheaper Performance saddle uses the same shell and steel rails, with a claimed weight of 204g.
I’ve been using the oh-so-expensive Specialized S-Works Romin Evo with Mirror saddle on my road bike for the past few months. This is designed specifically to reduce pressure when riding in the drops. The bike it is fitted to has roughly 11cm of saddle-to-bar drop, and the additional comfort offered by the Romin Evo compared to the original Pro Stealth is notable.
Could the Pro Stealth Curved win back my affections?
Primus Multifuel conversion kit
Before we dive into the Primus Multifuel conversion kit, here’s a potted history of my life with camping stoves for some context.
For many years, I cycle toured with a terrifying Coleman Peak 1. This hardy little stove is designed to use white gas/Coleman fuel, but it would run with a hearty roar off of pretty much anything flammable – BBQ lighter fluid, petrol, diesel, kerosene… anything!
While very reliable and versatile, I considered abandoning the stove every time I burnt my fingers on the regulator valve (why is it so close to the burner?).
However, the final nail in the coffin came when a small jet of vapour escaped from the pump on the stove and set alight, creating a miniature flame thrower right at the base of the stove. Though user error was certainly to blame, I had irreversibly convinced myself that I’d blow up my tent the next time I went touring.
I then gave in and bought a cheap Vango-branded gas-powered stove. This worked perfectly well, but I found the power knob to be very on/off and sensitive to bumps.
I then bought a gas-powered Primus Express Spider, which has been flawless and is a joy to use.
However, back in August, I was struggling to buy camping gas canisters for an upcoming tour. Like many industries, the outdoors/camping world was hit by global shortages, and sourcing gas was particularly difficult.
Luckily, I had a few canisters salted away but, unwilling to put myself in a similar situation in the future, I decided to get hold of a multifuel kit for my Primus Express Spider stove.
This conversion kit allows your Primus stove to run on white gas (essentially a highly refined petroleum with no additives) and costs €69.95 at RRP, but is regularly available on sale for much less.
The kit consists of a fuel bottle, a pump mechanism, silicone grease, a multi-tool, two nozzles, a pre-heating pad and a pre-heating cup.
Converting your stove to run liquid fuel (and back again) takes no more than 10 minutes. The included instructions are easy to follow, but Primus also has an excellent in-depth video demonstrating the process. Switching the nozzles will allow you to run paraffin or kerosene, though this burns much dirtier than cleaner fuels.
While camping is now available again, it has massively increased in price. As an added bonus, liquid fuel is much cheaper than gas canisters, which pleases the frugal Scotsman in me. Carrying liquid fuel is also easy when cycle touring because the bottles can be stored on the frame well away from luggage.
Lezyne Super SV 23 multi-tool
The Lezyne Super SV 23 is a jewel-like stainless steel multi-tool that features just about every bit you could reasonably need for roadside repairs.
All common hex and Torx bits are present and correct, as well as a spoke wrench, chain breaker and a tubeless tyre repair kit. A rotor truing tool is another helpful addition.
As it is made of stainless steel, the tool should never corrode. This is particularly important if you carry your tools in a jersey pocket (the bits on my multi-tool are looking a bit grim after thousands of KMs spent encrusted in my salty sweat).
At £61, the stainless version of the tool commands a £20 premium over its alloy counterpart, but that might be a price worth paying if you want something that may well last forever.
Finish Line Fiberlink tubeless sealant
Finish Line’s new Fibrelink sealant is the brand’s second foray into the tubeless sealant market.
Finish Line’s original MultiSeal sealant was a novel latex-free product filled with Kevlar fibres. It was claimed to never dry out and to last the lifetime of a tyre. However, we found the performance of the sealant to be lacklustre in testing.
This new sealant is a more conventional latex-based version. It still contains the Kevlar ‘Fiberlink’ particles, which Finish Line claims will interlock around holes, creating “faster and stronger puncture seals”.
The sealant has a consistency similar to Stan’s and the chunky Kevlar fibres can be seen clearly floating around the bottle.
The sealant is available in 240ml ($12.99), 950ml ($34.99) and 4.5-litre ($110) options. International pricing and availability is TBC.