As one of the largest cycling distributors in the country, Madison is home to some 70 different brands that it imports and distributes throughout bike shops all around the UK. Because Madison is so humongous, the company holds its very own distributor show at the beginning of each year called iceBike*.
While iceBike* is mostly a dealer show and an opportunity for bike shop owners, managers, mechanics and sales staff to see the full Madison lineup and place orders for new season gear, it’s also a chance for us media folks to come along and get a sneak peek at some fresh product. Some of it has already been announced online though is freshly new to UK shores, and in other cases, some of it is the first time those products have been made visible full stop.
While there was a metric shit-tonne of product on display, I’ve made a selection of seven highlights from the show for you to ogle at.
1. Bliss Protection Minimalist+ Knee & Elbow Pads
Bliss Protection had some new superlight knee and elbow pads to show at iceBike. Replacing the existing Minimalist pads, the Minimalist+ pads are a refinement of the existing design. They’re still made from Bliss’ own unique ARG material (formerly Armourgel was used), which is a soft and flexible panel that’s designed to move with you on the bike.
When the ARG material encounters an impact however, some science-type things happen involving molecules and such, and the material firms up to absorb the impact energy. Stephan from Bliss Protection convinced me by whacking his ARG-wrapped fingers repeatedly with a hammer. It was quite violent and he appeared to enjoy it a little too much.
Seriously – he’s going to be spending the next two days doing that demonstration every two minutes.
Compared to the old Minimalist pads, the Minimalist+ pads use a more articulated ARG panel that is pre-bent around the knee cap and upper shin. Perhaps even more notable is that the Lycra sleeve has been extended higher up the thigh, with the elastic cuff designed to sit underneath your padded riding shorts/bibshorts.
Available in five different sizes from X-Small through to X-Large, the Minimalist+ knee pads will sell for £59.99, and the elbow pads will sell for £44.99.
2. DT Swiss Star Ratchet Upgrade Kits
DT Swiss didn’t have any particularly new wheels on display – we already saw the new XRC 1200 wheels at Eurobike last year, and we’ve also just finished testing and reviewing the burly 30mm wide XMC 1200 carbon wheels (which earned the Singletrack Recommended seal of approval).
There were some of the latest e-MTB specific wheels on show, but I got distracted by this hub cutaway of a 240 rear hub. I’m familiar with how the Star Ratchet mechanism works with its twin spring-loaded ratchet rings, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in an open hub like this – pretty neat huh?
DT Swiss actually sells the ratchet rings as a spare part, and there are three different versions available; 18t, 36t and 54t. The number simply refers to the points of engagement per revolution. So for the 18t kit, there are 18 clicks that you’ll hear for a single rotation of the freehub. This provides 20° of free play between each click.
In contrast, the 54t ratchet rings have 54 clicks per revolution, which delivers a much faster angle of engagement of 6.66°, which results in less ‘slack’ when you push down on the pedals.
When you step on the pedals, the ratchet rings provide a much greater amount of contact compared to a conventional pawl-based freehub system, which may only have 2-4 pawls locking the freehub in place. In comparison, the Star Ratchet system has either 18, 36 or 54 teeth engaging simultaneously.
If you already own a DT Swiss Star Ratchet hub, or you own a wheelset from brands such as Roval and Bontrager (which often make use of DT Swiss hub internals), you may have the ability to increase your engagement just by upgrading the ratchet rings – rather than having to buy a whole new hub or wheel.
For those considering an upgrade, pricing for the standard 18t kit is £39.99, £74.99 for the 36t kit, and £84.99 for the 54t kit.
3.Park Tools Stuff
There were a few new tools from Park Tools, but the guys had such a nice display that I just took a bunch of photos for the tool aficionados out there. Because lovely tools and organisation.
Prepping alloy and steel headtubes prior to headset installation may be less common than what it once was, but there’s still the right tool for the job to ensure everything fits as it should.
Likewise with direct-mount chainrings, this tool may seem less important. But for the mechanics out there who service multiple bikes with different gearing setups every day, this clever little gauge gives you a super quick visual of the bolt circle size and orientation so you can be sure you’ve got the right replacement chainring. As more shops increase their reliance on service work due to the growing onslaught of e-tailers, time is money after all.
4. Thule UpRide Roof Rack
We first got a look at this new roof rack from Thule at Eurobike, but now it’s available in the UK and it’ll sell for £169. Unlike Thule’s current roof racks, this one doesn’t clamp anywhere on the frame. Instead, it captures the front wheel with two adjustable hooks, which we’re informed are compatible with everything from road bike tyres through to fat bike tyres.
The top hook uses a quick release ratchet mechanism for tightening the arm down over the tyre. It takes a couple of goes to get used to it, but it’s actually really easy to use.
The rear wheel is locked down with an offset ratchet strap. If you’re putting your fat bike onto this rack, you will need a different rear wheel tray, which Thule sells separately.
5. Thule BackSpace XT
Here’s an interesting add-on for a Thule rear bike rack. If you already own the Velo Space XT Tailgate Rack (available in 2-bike and 3-bike versions), but you’re heading away on a big family holiday that doesn’t involve shuttling you and your mates up and down a mountain, then you can fit on this new BackSpace XT load box. It has an enormous 300L volume that essentially means you have a second car boot, and Thule says it’ll fit one of their Chariot multisport trailers inside.
It ain’t cheap though – that load box will set you back £450, which is on top of the £475-£549 for the rack itself. Given it’s size is not that far off a 1-bedroom apartment in London though, that’s a steal!
The rack itself was launched last year, so isn’t brand spanking new, but it is very nicely finished, and offers a downwards tilting action that makes it compatible with the Singletrack Magical Mystery Volkswagen T5.
6. Finish Line Tubeless Tyre Sealant
Chain lube brand Finish Line had a new product to show off: tubeless tyre sealant. But it isn’t any ordinary tubeless tyre sealant. It’s latex and ammonia free, and it’s filled with Kevlar fibres that are designed to create a strong, flexible and permanent seal for any punctures you may endure.
On top of that, Finish Line says this sealant will never dry out, meaning (in theory) it will last the life of the tyre. Big claims indeed. We’ll be getting some sample sealant soon to see whether it lives up to the hype, but in the meantime, here’s Harry Potter doing a demonstration:
The camera never gets tired of taking photos of this stunning human! Steve Peat was cruising around iceBike* and spending a bit of time in the USWE booth with Karl from USWE. I asked him to cuddle his mannequin, but I think Peaty felt a bit weird about it, so this is all we got. USWE did have a couple of new bags, though we actually received some samples a couple of weeks ago that were in Fresh Goods Friday, and we’ll have reviews coming in the near future for you.