Press Camp 2017 gear preview: helmets, sunglasses, saddles, tools

We just returned from a week at Press Camp in Park City, Utah, where several companies announced new stuff for model year 2017. Smith, Ryders Eyewear and Fabric all caught our eye with their new helmets, sunglasses, saddles and tools. Keep reading to check out the new gear. Reviews of many of these items will be coming soon!

Smith Route Helmet

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Smith’s first road helmet, the Overtake, was launched a few years ago to much attention for its unique looks, use of multiple new protection technologies and its steep price tag. Now, Smith has added the Route, a lower-cost road/adventure/whatever lid that will retail for $150 without MIPS and $180 with MIPS. The Route is available now in nine colors, including white, black, orange and camo print, among others.

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The Route still features a comfortable, 360-degree fit system and the striking green honeycomb protection lining from Koroyd. Instead of full coverage, the Koroyd (a rather expensive material designed to reduce skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries) is strategically placed where crash impacts are most likely to occur. Light and camera mounts aren’t included, because whatever you already have should work at the top of the helmet, where there is no Koroyd blocking the vents.

Also available is the Rover, a mountain bike helmet that is roughly the same thing but with a detachable visor included. Pricing is the same for the Rover.

Ryders Eyewear with antiFOG Lenses

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As soon as I hear a claim like “these lenses will never fog,” my B.S. antennae goes up. But I received a pair to wear during Press Camp and, low and behold, Ryders antiFOG lenses actually work. They carried me through several steamy rides. I look forward to testing them this winter while fatbiking and commuting with a balaclava.

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Ryders Eyewear started out as a family-run mountain bike sunglasses company and is now owned by one of the most high-tech lens manufacturers in the world. That gives the company access to some pretty impressive technologies, including the military-grade anti-fog treatment it adapted for its cycling lenses. Ryders elected not to polarize all of its riding lenses because it believes some glare is useful, allowing you to see things like ice patches and puddles.

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Some frames will feature rimless tops, which are intended to provide unobstructed views from a crouched, looking-up position, as well as ventilation. Rims on the bottom can also help protect your face in the event of a crash. Sunglasses with antiFOG lenses start at $79 for clear up to about $150 for lenses packed with multiple technologies (too many to explain here; you can still get polarization if you want it).

Just know that the antiFOG seems to function as claimed and the glasses are very comfortable. Many models feature adjustable nose pieces and low-profile stems that work well with a wide variety of helmets.

Fabric Saddles

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Fabric is a UK-based company that makes saddles, grips, bar tape, tools and pumps. The unique thing about Fabric saddles are the way they are built: a one-piece waterproof microfiber top with foam padding is vacuum bonded (heated and pressed) to a one-piece, flexible nylon base. There are no nasty adhesives or side stitching that could compress the padding and eventually come apart. Water and dirt can’t get in and foam won’t pop out if the saddle is slashed in an accident. The saddles are supposed to feel the same for their entire lifetime.

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The new Line saddle features an ergonomic relief channel that is not completely open (Fabric is thinking of its UK brethren who ride in rain often). The Line is 270 mm long and comes in two widths: 134 and 142 mm, eight color options and three rails (cromo, titanium and carbon). The Line weighs between 183 grams and 250 grams. Prices range from $70 to $100. We have one for test and will report back, soon.

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The Fabric Cell saddle is not new, but it’s still rarely seen. Developed using sneaker technology (think high-end, springy running shoes), the Cell is an air-sprung saddle that deforms in a linear fashion to better support your bottom. It’s supposed to be super-comfortable even when riding without a padded chamois. It has a weatherproof TPU cover and comes in six colors. Weight is 355 grams, length is 282 mm and width is 155 mm. Price is $80.

Fabric Chamber Multitool

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Bike tools with interchangeable bits often have tiny pieces that are easy to loose and hard to handle with sweaty fingers. The Fabric Chamber tool helps by offering 13 tool bits with extra leverage, including a ratchet function. Screwed into the chamber are six, double-ended bits and an 8 mm over-bit. Thirteen functions are included: 2 mm, 2.5 mm, 3 mm, 4 mm, 5 mm, 6 mm, 8 mm, SL3, SL5, PH1, PH2, T10, T25.

The bits can be used at different lengths in the chamber head, increasing access to the many hard to reach areas on a bicycle. The compact shape is snag-free and easy to carry. Its 162 gram weight feels a bit heavy, but no more so than standard multi-tools. Retail is $60.

Full disclosure, Press Camp is not a standard bike industry event, which often involves camping or at least staying in a sub-par hotel with questionable sheets and discolored bath water. Press Camp is held at a swanky ski resort with very crisp white sheets and fabulous meals. We were well taken care of.



Nutcase announces 2016 Unframed artists

It seems few artists can resist the canvas of a blank bicycle helmet. Nutcase Helmets’ annual artist series continues to grow, with more than 200 submissions from 19 countries for the 2016 Unframed Artist Series. Though judging was difficult, eventually three artists were chosen to design helmets that will go on sale in 2017.

The 2016 artists chosen are Collin Sekajugo of Uganda/Rwanda, Kyle Confehr of the USA and Yan Yan Candy Ng of Hong Kong/Australia.

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Learn more about the Unframed artists at the Nutcase website, and learn why wrapping an artwork onto a spherical shape isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Like all Nutcase Gen 3 street helmets, Nutcase Unframed helmets feature the a spin dial system for a custom fit, magnetic chin strap buckle, 360-degree reflectivity and removable visor for comfortable, all weather riding rain or shine.


Enter to win a free Torch T2 helmet


This new T2 bike helmet from Torch Apparel is the first and only to include front and rear lights and rechargeable batteries with up to 36 hours continuous run time. With its integrated lights, the T2 will keep you visible above obstacles on the road from all directions and since the lights are built in, they’re always with you. It’s a $140 value.


Enter to win a T2 helmet today by completing the short survey below or opening it in a new window. Please read the terms and conditions before entering. Don’t delay, the drawing will be held Thursday, August 27.

Create your own user feedback survey


This Just In: Scott Sports Torus Plus helmet


There was a time in the not-too-distant past when all bicycle helmets were available in just one style: racing. Swoops and vents and talons and lasers were the theme of the day, and even budget-minded lids were shaped this way.

Thankfully in the past few years the helmet companies have caught up to the growth in practical cycling, which has its own set of priorities—not the least of which is style. Now when I think of Scott Sports I usually think of its super-high-end road and mountain bikes, but it also has a well-rounded commuter line and the parts and accessories to go with it.

The Torus Plus helmet takes the technology pioneered from the action-packed side of cycling and shapes it into a more practical package. For example, the outer shell is more durable, as helmets don’t always live on your head, they get dragged into coffee shops, into work, shoved in the backseat of your friend’s car, etc. On the back you’ll also find a strap to which you can affix a clip-on light, and a swatch of herringbone tweed fabric that gives an extra style boost.


The chin straps are also simplified with a fixed fore-aft adjustment, which really makes getting a good fit easier. Inside the helmet the cradle system is adjustable for size with three click-in settings, then in the back there is an adjustable, stretchy elastic band. Scott Sports calls it the LW Fit system, and it’s a set-and-forget design that ensures a proper, snug fit without dials and levers. While I would normally try an XL helmet first, the medium sample Scott Sports sent us could be adjusted to fit even me, so that says a lot about the range in brains it can accommodate.


The Torus Plus helmet also features the MIPS system that is sweeping the helmet market. Essentially it is a thin layer inside the closed-cell foam that allows the head to rotate slightly when making in impact. Since most helmet impacts are glancing rather than direct, this slide and rotating helps to absorb some of that energy before it reaches the brain.


The Torus Plus is available in three sizes and retails for $99.



ABUS sponsors German pro cycling team

ABUS, the German manufacturer known primarily for its bike and motorcycle locks, will supply a German professional road racing team with mobile security and helmets in 2015 and 2016.

As part of this partnership, ABUS will supply UCI Professional Continental Team Bora-Argon 18 (known as NetApp-Endura through December 31) with its top racing helmet, the Tec-Tical Pro v.2. The security expert will also give the pro team additional support with mechanical and electronic security systems for the equipment used in team vehicles and at team headquarters.

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“It’s a great development for the company as we push more into the helmet space,” said Joan Hanscom, ABUS North American Marketing and PR Manager. “It will be several months before we’ve got them in the U.S., and we will start with the commuter helmets. It’s where we have something very unique in the market place. Race helmets will likely come later.”

According to ABUS, the driving forces behind the sponsorship, as well as the foundations for the upcoming collaboration, include the team’s German roots, its international focus and a similar philosophy.

“Making a strong commitment to a German professional cycling team is the logical next step in our sponsoring strategy,” said Christian Bremicker, CEO of the ABUS Group. “It offers us a fantastic opportunity to showcase our products to a wide audience at the highest level of competitive cycling, while also giving us the opportunity to incorporate feedback from the professional riders into the further development and optimization of our helmets. We look forward to this new cooperation in the world of professional cycling and wish the entire team a healthy season as well as lots of success.”

NetApp-Endura is currently the most successful and highest-level cycling team in Germany. The team’s all-time highlight was its participation in this year’s Tour de France, where it finished seventh in the overall classification and took third place in Stage 20, the individual time trial.

Extra! Read about our tour of three ABUS German factories in May 2014.



Nutcase wants your art on its helmets


Earlier this year Nutcase partnered with three international artists to create special edition helmets. They also joined Nutcase at the two major cycling industry tradeshows in Germany and the United States to create murals that were auctioned off to support World Bicycle Relief. The helmets they created will be available for a limited time in early 2015.

Now it is setting its sights higher for the next round, issuing a call for artists around the world to submit their work for a chance to create one of the next round of limited-edition helmets. Plus if your work is chosen you’ll be invited to the major tradeshows for another live art creation project and awarded some cold hard cash.

The artwork doesn’t have to have a bicycle on it. It doesn’t even have to be about bicycles. But it does have to convey the fun and freedom of cycling as well as mesh with the irreverent and zany style on all of Nutcase’s products.

Visit the Nutcase Helmets website for a helmet design template and an entry form. Good luck!


Express your style with new Nutcase helmets


The folks over at Nutcase Helmets sure know how to have fun. While keeping your melon safe is serious business, no one does it with more color than the Portland-based company. They have a few new products debuting this week, including the Unframed series and the new Metroride model. Since they are right down the road, I went over to visit the offices and check them out.

See the new helmets here.


Big brands unveil new aero road helmets


Now that bikes have become incredibly light and stiff, the new frontier in bicycle product design is aerodynamics. After all, a bike is only as aero as the rider on it. Helmets are one of the biggest factors in a rider’s aerodynamics on a bike, and you’ve likely seen those enormous time trial helmets that look like the villain from the movie “Alien”.

Three major players in the helmet market, Giro, Bell and Smith, have unveiled new aero helmets in the past few weeks.

Get the details here.

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