Shimano R241 Road Shoes
The R241 is the new base model in Shimano’s Custom Fit range of shoes for road cyclists. For those unfamiliar with Shimano’s Custom Fit technology, these shoes feature heat-mouldable uppers and inner soles that are softened in a purpose-built oven during the fitting process. The shoes are then moulded to each foot using air compression, and once cool, the shoes retain their new shape.
The R241s feature hollow carbon composite soles that have been drilled for 3-hole cleats. There is a generous inlet port at the front of the sole plus meshed areas around the toes to keep the shoes well ventilated. At the rear, the uppers are lined with an anti-slip fabric knitted with metal fibres to prevent the heel from slipping out of the shoe. A combination of two lower Velcro straps and an upper strap that feeds into a ratchetting buckle are utilised to close the shoe. Shimano offers the R241 in both regular and extra-wide (E) widths for most sizes.
Weight: 590g for pair of size 44 shoes.
Price: $269-99 for shoes only, or $399 for shoes plus Ultegra carbon pedals at selected Shimano dealers. Find out more here.
Shimano’s Custom Fit system works. Before the oven and vacuum, the R241s fit my feet without complaint, but after the custom fitting was done, they were sensational. The fit was nearly perfect (see below for my only complaint) and I enjoyed wearing them. The shoes also felt light on my feet, particularly the soles, and they seemed very stiff under load. The upper strap was a little fiddly to thread and adjust, but once set, the shoes felt sturdy and secure.
The inner soles were moulded to my feet during the fitting process, but ultimately, they failed to provide adequate arch support. If you normally need extra arch support, then I’d suggest going through the Custom Fit process with your preferred inner soles rather than Shimano’s inners for the best result. With that said though, I was able to swap the stock inners for my regular Esoles after the custom fit without affecting the fit of the shoe. If you find that changing the inners after moulding compromises the fit, Shimano’s Custom Fit shoes can be heated and fitted 3 times before there is a risk of damaging the shoes.
My only complaint with these shoes was with contour of the soles: they feature a moderate amount of heel lift plus a marked scoop at the toes that was at odds with my usual heels-down pedalling style. Indeed, the R241s forced me onto my toes and activated my calves to the point where I was uncomfortable after a couple of hours, but it was only apparent after I’d started riding. I’m sure riders that pedal with their heels up will enjoy these shoes; for the rest, I’d recommend you first take a pair for a short ride before committing to a purchase.
It is worth noting that dealers are likely to charge for the custom fit, so before you consider a set of R241s, find someone with plenty of experience with the Custom Fit system. I’m grateful that Rick Churchill, the owner of Churchill Cycles in Perth, was able fit the R241s for me. The near-perfect fit of the R241s to my feet has to be attributed to his attention to detail during the fitting process.
Gore Ride On Sealed Cables
The Ride On sealed cable system for brakes and derailleurs provides inner cables that are coated with a slick membrane, but rather than thread them through the outer housing directly, they travel through a fine plastic tubing that is threaded through the outer cables. The purpose of the tubing is two-fold: first, it provides a very low friction path for the inner cable, and second, it seals out the majority of the elements that can interfere and compromise cable performance. Gore provides the sealed system as a kit that includes front and rear inner cables for brakes or derailleurs, a generous length of outer cable, the lining tubing, plenty of ferrules, plus installation instructions. The cables are compatible with SRAM, Shimano, and Campagnolo groupsets and come in two colours: black or white.
RRP: ~$60 per kit from offshore retailers, up to $125 from local retailers.
These cables are brilliant for two reasons: firstly, they significantly reduce the effort required for braking and shifting, and in doing so, provide the kind of improvement to your bike that may only be rivalled by a new groupset. Indeed, I’ve found that these cables are able to resurrect or re-vitalise an aging groupset. Secondly, the inner cables are protected from the effects of rain, sand and even mud, providing a significantly longer servicing interval. I’m coming up to my second winter on the same set of Gore cables and I haven’t had to attend to them at all, plus I’m still experiencing silky smooth shifting and braking. Install these cables next time you’re overhauling your bike.
CNP Professional Food
CNP Professional is based in the UK, so it isn’t surprising that they have been working with British Cycling and Team Sky to refine its range of energy foods for cyclists. CNP Professional currently offers two gel formulas, ProEnergy and ProEnergy Max, based on a mix of maltodextrin (complex sugar) and minerals (potassium and magnesium) and supplemented with with either anti-oxidants (ProEnergy) or amino acids (taurine, phenylalanine, and tyrosine), caffeine, and guarana (ProEnergy Max). For endurance riding and carbo-loading, CNP Professional offers ProEnergy powder comprising maltodextrin, and if you need a protein supplement, take a look at ProPeptide, which is enriched with peptides and probiotics. Both ProEnergy and ProPeptide powders are mixed with water for consumption.
RRP: Can be purchased online at Players Priority. ProPeptide is available in two sizes, a 908g container ($69) and a 2.27kg re-sealable bag ($135). ProEnergy is supplied in 500g tubs ($29) while the ProEnergy Gels come in boxes of 24 ($69).
I found all of the CNP Professional products to be palatable, and in particular, the energy gels were easy to swallow thanks to their relatively low, almost water-like, viscosity. There was variation in opinion on the palatability of some of the flavours amongst my riding buddies, but none of them reported any adverse reactions to any of the products tested here. If you rely on energy bars and drinks, then it makes sense to buy them in bulk to keep your running costs down. CNP Professional takes care to detail its ingredients and they submit their products for independent testing for banned substances, which I find very reassuring.
The Laser Lite Lane is produced by the 3L Optoelectronics Company based in Singapore. They have taken advantage of recent miniaturisation of lasers to produce a rear tail-light that projects a bike lane in red laser light on the road behind. The unit runs on two AA batteries that provide up to 7 hours of power for the laser light or 48 hours for the flashing LEDs. The unit also has sensors that activate a turn signal (the LEDs form a left- or right-handed arrow) or a stop signal based on the motion of the bike. The light unit comes with a single large diameter band and some strips of rubber for securing the mounting bracket.
RRP: MSRP is US$70 but pricing will be finalised when a local distributor is appointed. Go to 3L Optoelectronics Company for more information.
The LaserLiteLane is an ugly light, it’s far too large and ungainly for a road bike, but it might appeal to commuters on mountain bikes. The large diameter of the light face is effective, providing lots of flashing diodes, however the laser lane is only impressive when there is no ambient light. Indeed, street lighting virtually defeated the laser by removing most of the contrast required to make the lane stand out. The turn signals worked well but only activated during a turn rather than in anticipation, so I can’t see how they provide any extra warning to the traffic behind. I found the bracket was a little flimsy and brittle, and didn’t allow for any adjustment to the angle of the light. In short, the LaserLiteLane is a novelty item but it does offer a large light face, so it may appeal to those riders using multiple rear lights and/or riding deserted, unlit roads.
Deda Zero100 Seatpost
The Deda Zero100 seatpost is made from aluminium alloy and features a two-bolt cradle. The post comes in one length (310mm) with a choice of two diameters (27.2 or 31.6mm) and two finishes (black or white). The setback is a standard 25mm.
RRP: ~$90 from offshore bike retailers
I love my Zero100 post. The two-bolt cradle allows fine adjustment of the saddle angle, and with very easy access to the adjusting bolts, I’ve been able to fine-tune the angle while riding along. I’ve had no trouble with my saddle slipping in the cradle despite regularly fiddling with the saddle angle and setback, nor have I been plagued by creaks or clicks. In short, the Zero100 is both an effective and elegant seatpost.
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