First Impressions: Effetto Mariposa Caffélatex Sealant

If you run tubeless-ready tires, you know the importance of sealant. The magic elixir is crucial for reliable tube-free setups. While you may assume that all sealants are the same, Effetto Mariposa’s Caffélatex stands out from the pack with its synthetic-latex formula and foaming action.

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Image courtesy of Cantitoe Road

Unlike traditional latex sealants, Caffélatex does not contain ammonia, making the sealant rim- and tire-friendly. Ammonia is corrosive, and over time, can degrade bare aluminum rims and tire casings. Effetto Mariposa’s sealant also contains microscopic silicate particles (less than 2 microns in diameter), which the company claims move more slowly through holes, allowing the sealing ingredient more time to stop the puncture.

Activated by wheel movement, Caffélatex’s foaming agent (Actifoam™) disperses sealant throughout the tire’s entire internal cavity. According to Effetto Mariposa, this makes Caffélatex more effective against sidewall punctures. We were initially skeptical of the sealant’s foaming abilities, but shaking the translucent container a few times showed just how quickly Caffélatex transforms to its foam state.

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Six-week-old Caffélatex sealant still going strong.

During our review period, we tested Caffélatex with mountain and road tubeless tires. Both new and previously used tires performed equally well. Adding sealant via the Effetto Mariposa-supplied injector was quick and easy, and didn’t require removal of the valves’ cores. For loose-fitting tires, we found that–compared to competitors’ products–less sealant was needed when using Caffélatex. In our testing, we never encountered a puncture that Caffélatex couldn’t seal.

Caffélatex is available in 250 ml ($11.95 MSRP) and 1000 ml ($29.95 MSRP) bottles. Road tires typically need 25 ml to 50ml sealant (each), with mountain tires requiring 50 ml to 100 ml, depending on size. If you’re not quite sure how much sealant is required for a particular setup, Effetto Mariposa has a smartphone app that can calculate the optimal quantity of Caffélatex sealant. The Effetto Mariposa injector has a 100 ml capacity, and retails for $13.95.

Disclosure: Cantitoe Road provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

First Impressions: Octto Professional Gel Bar Tape

If you want a great looking tape job, you need two things: skill and a superior product. You may not be able to purchase good technique, but Octto’s Professional Gel Bar Tape ($29.00 CAD MSRP) will make any bike look–and feel–better.

Octto’s bar wrap is constructed from a high-purity foam material. According to the Toronto-based company, the foam is less susceptible to tearing when stretched. That improved flexibility, combined with the extra-long length (215 cm), accommodates a wide range of bars and wrapping styles. With fifteen colors and two finishes (smooth or textured), there’s bound to be combination for any bike.

Installing Octto tape proved to be trouble free. The wrap’s tapered profile enabled maximum overlap, which resulted in a thick, plush feel. If you’re looking for a thinner, more direct feel, simply increase the tension when wrapping. We usually forgo most companies’ finishing tape and bar plugs, but the included Octto accessories were a cut above those supplied with competitors’ bar wrap.

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In use, Octto’s low-residue adhesive held tight even when we intentionally wrapped the bars in a way that would encourage unwinding. When it came time to change cables, the gel wrap left behind zero residue. Even the lever strips, which utilize traditional peel-and-stick adhesive, remained gunk-free after several months of hard use. Color fade was minimal, and the tape cleaned up quickly and easily with a mild soap and water solution.

Unlike other gel bar tape that compresses in a few weeks, Octto’s Gelicone™ Enhanced Comfort Foam retained its cushion after months of daily use (which included both paved and unpaved roads). While our testing was limited to the company’s smooth-finish tape, it remained surprisingly grippy during the summer thundershowers that are common along Colorado’s Front Range.

Octto’s Professional Gel Bar Tape may cost a little more than generic bar wrap, but the tape’s long-lasting cushioning will save you money–and time–in the long run. Plus, when the time does come when you need to re-wrap your bars, you won’t be faced with a sticky, gooey mess.

Disclosure: Octto Components Toronto provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

First Impressions: TRP RG957 Brakes

TRP is widely known for their gravel-friendly cantilever and linear-pull brakes, but the company also offers a wide range of high-performance caliper brakes. One model–the RG957–combines long-reach compatibility with modern aesthetics for a brake that’s equally at home on paved or unpaved roads.

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Plenty of clearance with 30mm (actual width) tires and 25mm rims.

The RG957 ($179.99 MSRP) brakes share many of the features found on TRP’s other road calipers, including forged-and-machined aluminum arms, stainless steel hardware, Teflon® bushings, and inplace adjustable pad holders. At 170g per-caliper, the RG957s are on par with 47mm-57mm reach brakes from Shimano and Velo Orange. TRP offers the brakes in three finishes: matte grey (which we tested), matte black, and polished silver.

Installing the RG957 brakes is just what you’d expect with dual-pivot sidepulls–quick and easy. The brakes’ fittings take standard tools, and the cable adjusters are easily operated with one hand (even while riding). Despite repeatedly switching between rims of various widths, the brakes always remained in adjustment. TRP’s deep drop calipers cleared 32mm cross-type knobbies with room to spare, and accommodated full-size fenders with narrower (25-28mm) tires.

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The RG957’s in-place holders offer easy adjustment and pad replacement.

Paired with modern integrated levers (we used SRAM‘s Force 22 and new Rival 22 controls), the RG957s deliver powerful braking with a mildly progressive feel. Whether braking from the hoods or the drops, modulating the long-reach TRP stoppers was predictable and consistent. Part of the credit goes to TRP’s alloy rim compound brake pads. The RG957’s pads required virtually no breaking in, and remained quiet during our test period. The pads’ wet weather performance was better than expected, with little difference in power in wet or dry conditions.

Some riders may scoff at the thought of using sidepulls for off-road use, but we found that the RG957s actually outperformed many cantilever and linear-pull brakes. Not once did we find ourselves wishing for more braking power when riding dirt and gravel aboard bikes equipped with 25mm-32mm tires. Discs and v-brakes may work better for larger, more aggressive tires, but for road-style tires, the TRPs proved more than adequate. If you’re building up an all-roads bike that requires 47mm-57mm brakes, the RG957 should definitely be on your short list for consideration.

Disclosure: TRP provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.