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In the Drops: Giro waterproofs, Africap, Giordana thermal kit, Litelok and David O'Doherty

This week's round-up of nice bike things, plus nice bike things on TV and some new music

Will Strickson
3 Dec 2021

It's Friday again, somehow, and the first Friday of December, somehow. That's right, it's not March 2020 anymore – as much as my Spotify Wrapped proved that I'm spiritually stuck there – it's almost 2022 and Christmas shopping is well underway. If you're stuck for ideas on what to buy for the cyclist in your life, head to our carefully curated guide to gifts for cyclists.

This week Cyclist issue 121 went on sale and it includes a Big Ride in northwest Greece, the Oude Kwaremont Classic Climb, the Stelvio Santini sportive, an interview with the incredible Dame Sarah Storey, our favourite bits of winter kit and one of the world's greatest bike collections.

It's also been incredibly cold, so we've dived in to why your extremities get cold cycling in winter and put together the top tips to keep riding outside during the winter months from Arctic cyclist Tom Allen.

You can also now read what magazine deputy editor James Spender thinks of the new Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 groupset as well as the Merida Scultura V Team road bike.

If you're looking to ditch the tarmac, don't miss our review of BMC's URS 01 gravel bike, which features SRAM, Rockshox and Zipp's gravel-specific XPLR components, and another Spender special on the FiftyOne Assassin, a gravel bike with adjustable geometry.

In tech news, we unearthed a patent suggesting Trek is planning to make custom 3D printed saddles, while boutique brand Stayer is dodging the component shortage with some lovely looking drivetrain bits from Italian brand Ingrid. 

Finally, Rapha announced it was teaming up with ALL IN racing to produce a limited run of Rainbow Socks to support LQBTQ+ charity Stonewall's #RainbowLaces day and show that there are allies and supporters for underrepresented communities in the racing scene. You love to see it.

Giro XNetic H20 shoe covers, gloves and socks

Did I mention it's cold already? Well, winter has officially come and we all know in the UK that don't just mean cold, it's wet too.

Thankfully Giro has released its new XNetic H20 accessories: socks, shoe covers and gloves, all waterproof but breathable to combat the worst of the conditions.

I'm a big fan of the gloves as they're thick enough to keep your hands warm and dry while not being too bulky so you can't feel your brake levers.

The shoe covers are really easy to get on because they're built like a sock but with extra protection and cleat and heel holes on the under side as well as a reflective strip around the top. At first the socks feel a bit weird due to the waterproofing but they're comfortable, warm and dry so that's all that matters.

Africap cap

Fact: cyclists love cycling caps. Fact: fun designs make for superior cycling caps. These things make Africap's caps as good as they come.

They're all made with Ankara printed fabric – 100% cotton – from West Africa and each one is named after the specific region where the fabric was sourced or has an affiliation to. This one is the Abuja, with the material coming from Nigeria.

Alongside its obvious aesthetic qualities – it also looks good peak-down but this picture of me was better – it's extra comfortable and the bill is soft rather than the snappy plastic normally used, which is a nice change and makes it a bit more versatile for different head shapes.

Africap is a small business run by Mohammed 'Hammer' Sesay, who balances it with working in international human rights and running charity Keep it FAX – which helps children in Sierra Leone by providing scholarships, improving schools, helping orphans find foster arrangements and more.

Giordana G-Shield thermal kit

While socks, gloves and shoe covers keep your hands and feet warm and dry, what about the rest of the body? The new Giordana G-Shield winter kit will do that job very handily.

It has a thermal lining for a comfortable fit that doesn't lose the aerodynamics of a classic jersey and has a hydrophobic coating to keep the rain out.

I struggle with many thermal bibtights as they can feel too thick and restrictive but the G-Shield tights are legwarmer-thin while being warm and comfortable. They also don't have zips at the bottom but pull on easily and keep a nice, tight fit around the ankles.

No good winter kit would be complete without reflective details and both jersey and tights have small stripes to increase visibility when you're out in low light.

Litelok Core lock

A big part – and one not emphasised nearly enough – of why more people don't cycle for travel purposes, particularly those that would replace short car journeys, is security. Finding a lock that will not only keep thieves out but is easy to travel with is tricky.

The latest release from Litelok is the Core, which has a Diamond(!) Sold Secure rating, so you can't find a better lock for both deterrent, and protection if thieves aren't deterred.

It's also flexible and can be worn around your waist thanks to the elastic attachment that allows for a secure and pretty comfortable fit – make sure you wear it with the elastic strap behind you for optimum comfort.

It is big, as you'd imagine from a properly secure lock, but it's reasonably light, starting at 1.9kg and feels lighter than that when you're wearing it.

What we're into this week: David O'Doherty and playlist two

I promised in my last In the Drops that I would do a playlist of new music each time I was on duty, so here goes.

I've been very fortunate in that some huge albums have been released in that time so this edition features songs from Adele, Silk Sonic, Courtney Barnett and Snail Mail – who was featured last time but the album came out afterwards – as well as two new songs from Wet Leg and Holly Humberstone and a Christmas charity cover by Phoebe Bridgers.

The headlines for this playlist are the new single from Wallice, who makes music that will instantly place you in an American indie movie, and two songs from Absolutely by Dijon, which features 12 short but really good tracks that blend soul, hip-hop and indie rock.

There's also a beautiful new song by Alt-J that is the best they've made for a long time.

Finally, my recommendation this week couldn't have been easier and I couldn't be more confident about its success.

Last week saw the start of Along for the Ride with David O'Doherty on Channel 4, a show that sees incredibly funny comedian and keen cyclist David O'Doherty go on some of the most scenic bike rides in the UK with celebrities.

Two episodes have aired so far, the first was a ride to Dungeness in Kent with Richard Ayoade and the second with Grayson Perry in the Brecon Beacons, both were fun, easy watching and very jealousy-inducing.

It features O'Doherty's beautiful Bianchi bike and kit from Rapha, Poc and Scottish brand Meander as well as a really nice playlist.

You can find it on All4 and new episodes air on Mondays at 10pm.

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