We really like the way this jacket looks - technical, maybe even stylish, but not over the top. On the right, the zipped vent was a feature we are very fond of.
|It may sound silly point to start with, but the Stratos simply looks and feels right. It's a fairly high-end jacket with a pricetag to match, so being styled this nicely and feeling this good in your hands and when you're wearing it goes a long way to helping you justify the extra money it costs compared to a basic jacket. It's also worth keeping in mind that it is still a lot less expensive than the GoreTex exotica offered by its sister brand, Arcertyx. The lightweight, breathable material belies how waterproof it is and we are starting to suspect that we'd need to go swimming in it before it lets us down. That light weight also makes it a perfect pack jacket, as many times you have to compromise how waterproof your jacket is to have something that folds up this small. One feature we found surprisingly useful (but difficult to explain) is the unique system of having a strip of vent material alongside the main zipper, so you can keep the jacket open a couple of inches to let air in, without the jacket flapping about. The only two negatives we can find are that if you are wearing a full-face helmet the chunky main zipper taps on the chinbar as you ride and, if you like to roll your sleeves up, the watch window cuts into your arm a tiny bit. In all, this is a great riding jacket. - Matt Wragg|
After around 500km of trail miles, the kevlar grips still look fairly fresh, if a touch muddy. There are lots of nice touches all the way though, look the drilled collars to save weight and the Renthal-branded, integral end caps.
|These kevlar compound grips feel about equivalent to the soft compound, costs $3 extra over the regular compounds, but have a noticably longer lifespan. After a month on the bike we're struggling to see any signs of usage. We dismissed Fabien's theory of hand-placement initially, then we started thinking about it, realising we were doing exactly what he described. That doesn't mean there is a revelation moment with these grips, you don't put your hands on a set and feel your world has changed. It is more like a subtle, underlying sense of them just feeling right. Unless you spend time analysing it like we have here, we would suspect it would be hard to explain what it is about them which makes them so nice. Coming from much bigger grips, they are a touch small for our personal preferences, although we have heard mutterings from Renthal about offering them in a range of widths eventually, which is something we would be keen to see. The only warning note is that this kevlar compound gets very slippery in the wet if you ride without gloves. Renthal say that the super-soft is a much better bet in that situation, but we haven't had chance to test this out yet. We do also need to mention that the end bolts are very soft, so be careful when you're tightening and loosening them. - Matt Wragg|
We reckon the Aeron looks more expensive than it actually is and we cannot fault it has been a solid performer.
|If there is one country we would trust to make pump, it's Germany. While it may not have the elegant, boutique feel of offerings from companies like Lezyne, the aluminium body is classy and, more importantly, solid. We especially like the rubber ring they use to keep the head in position while the pump is closed, it is both utterly simple and very effective. Inside the head are the usual two rubber parts to change the valve size, it is no better or worse than anything else out there, but it can be done quickly and easily. What sets this pump apart is the high volume, for mountain bike tyres it is spot-on as you need to get a lot of air in there. However, if you do need a pump to use with your road bike as well, then the limited pressure capacity will rule this one out for you. - Matt Wragg|