Under Test: SRAM Rival 22 Components

SRAM Rival 22 gravelbike.com gravel grinder

Image courtesy of SRAM

SRAM’s Rival 22 component group features mechanical or hydraulic DoubleTap levers with Zero-Loss™ technology, Yaw™ front shifting for no trim, rub or rasp, and a WiFLi™ 11-32 cassette cassette option. Whether it’s cyclocross, triathlon, road racing, or unchartered journeys, Rival 22 delivers.

Stay tuned…

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.

Octto blue

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.

Under Test: Selle SMP Saddles

SMP Plus

Selle SMP offers some of the most distinctive-looking saddles around. Whether it’s the eagle-beak nose, open central channel, or raised rear section, the Italian-made perches definitely stand out in the crowded saddle market. And with nearly twenty models–not counting their city and trekking line–there’s bound to be a saddle for nearly any type of rider (we chose the company’s Avant (269mm x 154mm), Plus (279mm x 159mm, pictured), and Pro (278mm x 148mm) for our test).

Stay tuned…