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In the Drops: Garmin watch, Chrome bags, Wera tools, Ukraine fundraiser

James Spender
25 Mar 2022

From coloured tools to all-singing watches; plus two kids pedal big to help Ukraine

Just like a chicken-proof lawn, when it comes to days of the week, Friday is impeccable... the promise, the sweet relief, the IN THE DROPS. That's right, Friday here, I'm here, some lovely new kit is here that I have been thoroughly enjoying. But first, let's take a look at the week that was. Because what a week!

Did you see Milan-San Remo? Did ya? Did ya? OK, neither did I, but I saw some highlights and I saw what I reckon was the best piece of bike handling since Dance Armslong (so-called since he can't be named) took his road bike a-gravellin' on Stage 9 of the 2003 Tour de France.

The moment belonged to Bahrain ‘hey, the name seems to be working’ Victorious’ Matej Mohorič, who controlled a double fishtail better than the Bastard of Billingsgate on a death-defying descent of the Poggio to take top podium step, Bahrain's second Monument in as many seasons after last year's Paris-Roubaix. Oh, and he used a dropper seatpost, which is also probably some news somewhere.

Then Specialized released a new Allez Sprint, and it has made me want an alloy bike all over again. Perhaps that'll be one for my next In the Drops. But for now, you're stuck with this one.

Elsewhere, we enjoyed this mosey around the Paul Components factory, rode the famed cobbled Kemmelberg and published our in-depth Campagnolo Ekar review.

Oh, and one last very important thing. Cyclist Track Days are BACK for 2022, so if you’re in the UK, head on over to one of our four events this summer to test-ride some of the world’s bestest bikes.

Garmin Fenix 7 Solar

What could be better than the Garmin Fenix 6? That's right, Garmin's latest multi-sport smartwatch, which as far as I can tell literally does everything except have a spinning buzzsaw bezel so you can cut through ropes when you're tied up and being lowered into a shark pool (à la James Bond's Rolex in Live and Let Die... sorry, I've lost some of you haven’t I?). So what’s new?

The functionality is basically the same as the outgoing Fenix 6, but battery life is vastly superior. Garmin claims the 7 Solar, whose face contains a solar charge panel (there's a ‘standard’ non-solar model for poors at £599.99) will run for up 37 days as smartwatch, versus the 6 Solar's 26 days, and up to 122 hours for GPS tracking, up from 66 hours.

The Fenix 7 also boasts a touchscreen (which mercifully can be turned off too), and Garmin’s ‘most reliable heart rate monitor sensor to date’.

GPS is also refined, and I’ve found it finds satellites noticeably faster than my old Fenix 6, and the overall design and weight is more svelte.

Mapping is almost superior, the Fenix 7 now comes loaded with Garmin maps and turn-by-turn signalling is more refined. 

It’ll take a few more weeks to get to grips with all the features, so a full review will follow. But for now, I can already say this is Garmin’s best Fenix to date.

  • £689.99
  • Buy now from Garmin


Chrome Industries Tensile Hydro Pack and Hip Pack

OK, so I’ve already been told the white is divisive, so I’ll just say I kinda like the bold look when it comes to bags and the all new Tensile range from Chrome Industries is also available like a Model-T Ford. In black.

‘Tensile’ refers to the bags’ super-lightweight material, which is the sort of material you could make a parachute out of which Ben Ainsley probably uses for his pants – think lightweight sailcloth.

At any rate, both the Hydro and Hip Packs have that INXS feel: because they could never tear us apart. Or something like that.

These bags are strong, and voluminous for their size. The Hip Pack is 7 litres, or more than a full bag of cask wine, and the Hydro Pack is 16 litres.

Plus the Hydro Pack has room for a 2-litre water bladder, making it a very handy bike-packing buddy – room enough for spares, clothes and a few pasties as well as water.

Wera Hex/Torx set

Or, to call it by its official name, the Wera WER004173 L-Key Hex/Torx set... and hence as you may have guessed, this is a German brand.

But what that means is these tools appear to have been forged in bowels of hell, to incredibly fine tolerances and yet they come in these just dandy colours, which I just love, because after a while you get to know the pantone for the job, and wrenching becomes a joy – and just occasionally, a tool will even match your bike’s colour, which is just lovely.

The ends are Wera’s own design, said to prevent rounding by driving the flats of bolt heads, not the edges, and they do a great job of holding on to bolts, almost as if the tips are magnetic. This helps no end in inserting or removing bolts in tight spaces. 

At £45 they aren’t cheap, but equally these will outlast a cockroach.

Jenx Bros Ukraine Bike Ride Fundraiser

This week I also got an email from a fellow called Matt Jenkinson on behalf of his sons, Carter and Jacob. It’s not a product per se, but this is absolutely something worthwhile, so I’ve included it here.

Hello,

We are Carter and Jacob, the Jenx Bros, 12 and 10 years old.

We are going to take on a 300-mile cycling challenge over our Easter holidays, starting on Saturday 26th March, traveling from Dover to Exeter.  We want to raise as much money as possible for Ukrainians, for the Disaster Emergencies Charity partners for Ukraine, to help provide food, water, shelter and medical assistance.

We don’t want to sit and watch from a distance and want to try and do what we can to help.

If there is anything you can do to help us raise the profile of our fundraising page above, we would be really thankful as we want to try and raise as much as we travel across the South Coast as we can for our fellow people in their time of need.

Many thanks,

Carter and Jacob 

That’s a serious undertaking for a seriously good cause, so well done and good luck to Carter and Jacob, and if you’d like to support them, the Just Giving page is here.

Right, that’s all from me, the weekend beckons. To quote Delia, ‘Let’s be ’avin ya!’

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