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
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
Years ago, when I worked for Rivendell Bicycle Works, we sold $5 Ray Ban Wayfarer-looking sunglasses. The lens quality was so-so, but the frame was rather sturdy and masculine in a Steve McQueen sort of way. Sometimes one just doesn’t want to wear bug-eyed racer glasses when out riding or hanging out.
Enter the casual Bollé Jude sunglasses, which sport some of McQueen’s style while providing high-quality polarized optics. The $120 Judes are made in Italy, and come in a few color options, including the Matte Black/Lime Brown Emerald seen here.
At 36 grams, they’re light but durable. I’ve worn them nearly every day since mid April, on the bike, the motorcycle, while driving, and strolling with the dog. I usually fall in love with new casual sunglasses, then the magic disappears once they pinch my temples 15 minutes later. Not so with the Bollé Judes, thankfully.
Some of the tech that makes the Judes so good include a hydrophobic lens treatment to keep grease, dirt and other stuff from sticking. Coupled with an anti-reflective coating on the inside, I found these glasses to be near perfect for every use. And, the groovy argyle graphics on inner ear pieces always wins me style points with folks born after Don Henley sang about his Wayfarers in “Boys of Summer”.
If you’re looking for some reliable, quality sunglasses for the summer, consider these from Bollé.