In the drops: excellent Shimano RX6 shoes, the revised Icon Kask Protone, a set of solid wheels from HollowGram and The Hundred
The 2022 Tour de France may be in the backsight now, but the sun is still shining, the pros are still racing and the brands are still releasing great new kits, so things are looking rosy on the planet. Cyclist.
We had a particularly healthy week technologically, which, as Cyclist‘s tech editor, always makes me happy. Zipp overhauled their 858 NSW and 808 Ficrrest wheelsets, making them wider, lighter and hookless, while Factor worked with artist Karl Kopinsky to produce a rather special new bike for Sir Bradley Wiggins.
Cannondale’s SuperSix EVO went under the knife – the special ‘Leichtbau’ version of the frameset said to save 90g over the regular model, and we’ve covered the striking new Colnago G3-X that Nathan Haas will be using for take on a multitude of upcoming gravel races in the United States.
We’ve also revamped a few of our buying guides: our best singlespeed bikes and our best aluminum road bike buying guides are now up to date, so check them out if you need some advice.
Just to make sure things weren’t too tech-focused, issue number 25 of our Extremely Online series was released on Tuesday, alongside a driving report on a stunning route in Snowdonia.
A look back at the fan’s mountain, Alpe d’Huez, during this year’s Tour will also be posted later today, so be sure to check back later.
In the meantime, read on to get the scoop on the latest gear to get to Cyclist.
Kask Protone Icon Helmet
After eight years protecting the heads of Team Sky/Ineos Grenadiers – and as a result of that exposure, countless enthusiasts around the world – Kask has redesigned its popular Protone helmet.
The update may be subtle, but Kask promises better ventilation, ergonomics and aerodynamics in the Protone Icon, as well as increased rotational impact protection.
According to Kask, the helmet’s internal structure is stronger but more aggressively sculpted to channel air better, which provides more ventilation and better aerodynamics.
The helmet’s Octofit+ adjustment system has also been improved to provide a more stable and comfortable fit.
Although Kask still doesn’t use a Mips slip plane liner or similar mechanism, the brand says the Icon meets its own WG11 standard for rotational impact safety. The Icon weighs 230g in size medium – the same as its predecessor.
Shimano RX6 Shoes
The RX6 shoes are a new little brother to the hugely popular Shimano RX8 gravel shoes released in 2018, which incidentally seem a bit long in the tooth…
The upper material and layout is the same as the RX8s, so the RX6s should achieve the same level of ruggedness that I found the RX8s to have when I reviewed them.
In fact, the only difference on the top of the shoe is a switch to Boa’s slightly less premium L6 dial.
Things are similar on the bottom of the shoe – the tread pattern is the same configuration as the RX8, with particularly pronounced heel lugs for grip on soft, muddy ground. The tread even ostensibly gets an upgrade over the RX8 shoes, thanks to its rather attractive gum color.
The sole is the one area where a distinctive concession has been made, its material changing from carbon composite to nylon composite, although depending on your perspective, that might be a good thing.
Nylon soles generally give up some stiffness and weight, but gain some extra walking flex, which means if your adventures tend towards the rowdy, the RX6 shoes may be the best option for you anyway, while saving you a lot of money.
HollowGram R 45 wheels
HollowGram is Cannondale’s in-house component brand. Although it doesn’t have the reputation of other brands in a similar position like Bontrager (Trek) and Roval (Specialized), I can only see it a matter of time until it’s as good considered because as I noted in my Cannondale Synapse 1 RLE Review, the quality of its products seems top notch.
For example, the new HollowGram R 45 wheels. These sit below the HollowGram SL 45 wheels found on the Synapse, the main difference being slightly less sophisticated hubs and spokes.
Instead of the SL 45’s DT Swiss 240 ratchet rear hub internals, the R 45s use a simpler three-pawl system and also forgo DT Swiss’s Aerolite spokes.
In terms of performance, the only noticeable difference the rider should feel is around 140g extra weight (at a claimed 1680g) and slightly slower freehub engagement. In exchange, the R 45s can cost less than half the price of the SL 45s.
The rims are the same as those found on the SL 45 wheels, so they feature a modern 21mm internal width and wide 32mm external width that should pair smoothly with wide road tires.
What interests us this week: The Hundred
Image credit: Sky Sports
In my last edition of In the Drops I espoused the virtues of cricket and given that the weather conditions are still perfect for the sport and the second edition of The Hundred has just started I want to talk about it again.
The Hundred is a competition between eight British teams based in the city and attracts some of the biggest names in the sport. The format is an entirely new concept for cricket – instead of a fixed number of “overs” to be completed, each team is given 100 balls to score as many runs as possible. Instead of the traditional six-ball “over”, field team bowlers bowl “sets” of five or ten balls at a time.
It’s a smash-and-grab version of the sport that ends relatively quickly (just two and a half hours). There are still the occasional missed matchups, but more often than not the matches are close and exciting, with the achievement/requirement of points per ball making it easy to understand the match situation and who is winning.
Although as always with cricket, the momentum can swing back and forth with a few decisive deliveries.
The on-screen graphics need some work as they look like some kind of jarring teletext throwback, but overall I see The Hundred as an innovative new way to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t think to access sport.