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In the Drops: Specialized 3D printed saddle, Sportful Fiandre gloves, Sidis and Squid Game

This week's round-up of new gear, plus a bonus recipe that might just change your life

Matthew Loveridge
22 Oct 2021

Welcome to In The Drops, our shiny new round-up where we’ll feature the latest bikes and kit to arrive for testing and general fondling purposes, revisit some of the highlights of the week gone by, and invite you into the dank recesses of the Cyclist team hive mind. 

I'm Matthew Loveridge, newly minted website editor at Cyclist, and it's my mission to entertain, inform, and occasionally annoy you about all things road and gravel bike-related. You may recognise my name from another popular bicycle-themed website. BicycleSonar? CycleScanner? I forget. The main thing is, I'm yours now, thanks for having me.  

This week at Cyclist we ogled some stunning custom bikes at Bespoked 2021 and got the lowdown on the best cobbled climbs in Flanders from Cyclist style icon Joe Robinson, plus a look at an extraordinary classic bike collection that lives in a Flandrien hotel. 

In the wake of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes route announcement, pro cycling obsessive Robyn Davidson took a closer look at the ins and outs of the inaugural edition of this all-important race. Is it going to be hard? Yes. Is the prize money good enough? No, but it's a start. 

James Spender gave his verdict on the £12,000 (twelve thousand pounds!) Bianchi Specialissima, and we published our SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset review. Spoiler alert: it’s a pretty darned good drivetrain, albeit neither a cheap nor light one. 

It's a funny old time in the bike industry, with product availability at an all-time low and prices at an all-time high. Bikes that should have launched as model year 2021 are still waiting in the wings, and major products like the new Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 and Ultegra R8100 groupsets remain frustratingly elusive for regular punters. 

There's plenty to be optimistic about however. For one, the gravel bike scene has never been more exciting, with new designs launching seemingly every other week and new events like the Two Volcano Sprint springing up.

On the bike front, there's something for all tastes, from the versatile road-adjacent Wilier Rave SLR, to the mountain bike-adjacent and front suspension-equipped BMC URS LT. Reasons to be cheerful?

Specialized S-Works Romin EVO with Mirror saddle

Trypophobics, look away, it's another holey offering from the bike industry. There are a handful of 3D printed saddles on the market and the Specialized S-Works Romin EVO with Mirror is the latest. 

This intriguing seat combines the tech of the existing S-Works Power with Mirror with the popular – and slightly longer – Romin shape

Specialized says it's made from a 'liquid polymer matrix' and, being a top of the range saddle, it's built on a carbon shell and rails, and weighs a fairly feathery 179g in a 143mm width (it also comes in 155mm). Like other Specialized saddles, it has SWAT mounting bosses under the tail to attach various accessories.

The great promise of 3D printing for saddles is the ability to tune comfort and support minutely by varying the design of the lattice, something that would normally be achieved using sections of differents grades of foam. 

Poking the new Romin with a finger, it's easy to feel how the squishiness varies. It's pretty firm where your sit bones go for support, but softer elsewhere.

Does this justify the outlay? That's hard to say, but it does look amazing. The even more exciting prospect might be fully custom saddles, tailored to individual bottoms.

Perhaps one day bike shops will move from simple sit bone width measurements to full-fledged arse scanners. We can butt hope.

Sportful Fiandre and Fiandre Light gloves

Sportful's Fiandre range is aimed at chilly autumn and winter riding and there are two glove options that look to be a good match for typical UK conditions. 

The Fiandre Light gloves (left) are aimed at milder weather, when it's too cold to go gloveless, but you don't want the bulk of full-on winter protection. 

They feature a water repellent fabric and taped seams, generous grippers on the inside of the palm and fingers, and an elasticated neoprene cuff to form a nice seal against your wrists.

The Fiandre gloves are much heavier duty and should offer enough warmth and protection for all but the harshest weather thanks to a Polartec membrane on the outside, fully taped seams and a snuggly fleece liner. 

The gripper design is similar to the Light option, but the cuffs have zips. This design isn't actually new for this year and you can read Paul Norman's Sportful Fiandre Glove review here.

Sidi Shot 2 shoes

Sidi's range-topping Shot 2 is a delightfully Euro shoe that somehow manages to look restrained in an age of lairy colours, matt finishes and knitted fabrics. 

Sidi touts the Shot 2's 'Tecno-3 Push Flex' dial design which claims to eliminate unwanted pressure on the instep, somehow. There's also a tool-adjustable heel cup and, as you'd expect on a premium shoe, a full-carbon sole. Sorry, a 'C-Boost SRS carbon sole'. 

The sole is generously vented and I thoroughly look forward to covering it in duct tape to get me through the winter, sorry Sidi. 

The bike industry isn't always the best when it comes to repairability but Sidi deserves praise here, as all the major components (dials, sole inserts, heel cup mechanism...) are replaceable and available as spares.  

These black/grey Shot 2s have a nice shiny finish that will almost certainly age more gracefully than the matt options favoured by many brands these days. 

This size 44 pair weighs 626g on my scales, which is neither exceptionally light, nor off-puttingly heavy.

Gymspin laundry detergent

Are you cursed with stinky cycling kit? Despite not identifying as a filth wizard, I'm painfully conscious of some kit's ability to harbour odours despite frequent washing. 

New brand Gymspin claims to have a solution in the form of its bio laundry detergent that's specifically aimed at sweat-soaked exercise wear.

Gymspin asserts that conventional detergents simply mask smells, while its product 'neutralises' them with a 'deep cleansing enzymatic complex' and 'Phytofocus' scent technology that 'evokes the scent of popular muscle condition products', 'capturing the charged atmosphere of the changing room and the anticipation of imminent competition'. Pretty heady stuff. 

Gymspin comes in capsules that are said to be biodegradable and which are recommended for use at a planet-sparing 30°C.

Whatever they do chemically, Gymspin pods look delicious, don't they? Remember when eating Tide pods was a thing? Please don't do this. 

  • 4 pod sample pack: £2.50
  • Subscription: £15 for 12 pods/month
  • Get yours at Gymspin

What we’re into this week: life-changing aubergines and childish games

Has a recipe ever changed your life? This one might have changed mine. Melanzane alla parmigiana (aubergines and cheese innit) is very likely the best thing I've ever made. 

It's a deceptively simple Italian dish, one I've doubtless overlooked on countless menus, but it's honestly extraordinary.

Melanzane alla parmigiana is made from layers of aubergines, tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan (or grana padano if you're a pleb like me) and it's the most gloriously rich and comforting food, one that's possibly even better as left-overs the next day. 

I roughly follow Felicity Cloake's recipe on the Guardian, except I can't be bothered with the frying, so I cover my sliced aubergines in olive oil and salt and roast them in the oven instead, for minimal mess. 

Lest I get too comfortable, I'm keeping myself grounded with Netflix's genuinely horrifying Squid Game (subscription required). I'm late to this party – it launched last month – but just in case you've missed the hype, it involves heavily indebted Koreans playing children's games and being summarily killed when they don't succeed. 

It's a premise that makes the Hunger Games seem quite reasonable and fair. The first episode of Squid Game left me feeling moderately traumatised and I can't seem to stop watching it. It's utterly, grotesquely compelling. Do I recommend it? I really don't know. 

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