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Taking the edge off of gravel riding doesn’t have to mean losing all the performance from that fancy frame you just bought. The latest in gravel tech adds unobtrusive, subtle cushioning for an enhanced ride.
• Selle Italia’s Bar Pads contain three layers—gel, polyurethane foam and Lycra—to reduce vibration and offer a soft and comfortable hold.
• The Lauf Grit SL uses carbon leaf springs to add 30mm of travel that reacts faster than traditional suspension forks over small bumps.
• Cane Creek’s eeSilk seat post adds 20mm of tunable travel without changing your saddle angle.
Faced with brutal cobblestones, professional riders sometimes double-wrap bars, and even slice up garden hose and insert it under the bar tape, to try and get some relief from the broken stones. Selle Italia has taken that concept and created the Shock Absorber Kit. It’s a combination of SG-Tape and four specially created Bar Pads. The pads go under the SG-Tape at the drops and on the tops, and are each sculpted for that purpose. The pads are three layers—gel, polyurethane foam and Lycra—to reduce vibration and offer a soft and comfortable hold on the bars, without adding too much bulk. Since the cycling gods have a penchant for combining nasty rain with rough surfaces, the SG-Tape itself has an almost rubberized feel, which provides great traction for your hands in any weather. The pads add only 39 grams of weight, while the 30mm-wide SG-Tape is a generous 1,800mm long at 50 grams. $55; selleitalia.com
Lauf means “leaf” in Icelandic and that’s exactly what the original Lauf Grit fork was; it had 30mm of travel with carbon leaf springs. The benefits of this design are many: light weight, no traditional moving parts and incredibly quick reactions to bumps. Now the Lauf Grit SL is here, the second generation of the original leaf-spring fork. While the means and performance are the same—30mm of travel from carbon leaf springs—the new Grit SL is even lighter; at 850 grams, it shaves 50 grams off the original’s weight. It uses almost-straight-blade forks, and the leaf springs come in a smaller package, helping the fork appear a bit more traditional. Lauf has also integrated the crown race, making the steer-tube-and-fork-blade interface 15-percent stiffer. The ride of the Grit SL is really special; it reacts to small bumps much faster than traditional suspension forks, which is super important when speeds can reach 40 mph on many rolling gravel courses in the U.S. The Grit SL is a great way to smooth out the ride of your gravel rig, or even make your stiff ’cross bike a true gravel-and-adventure machine. $890; laufforks.com
Related: Step Your Gravel Wheel Game Up
THUDBUSTER’S LITTLE BROTHER
While Cane Creek’s Thudbuster and its 3 inches of travel may be overkill for most gravel riders, there is no doubt that a bit of cushion for the pushin’ is most welcome for a monster day on the gravel. Enter the new eeSilk from Cane Creek. You may know the “ee” designation from Cane Creek’s crazy-light brakes and Ti cranks; and the eeSilk seat post does not disappoint. It’s 350mm in length and offers 20mm of tunable travel, yet weighs just 295 grams. An elastomer insert—three durometers are available for tuning to your body weight and riding style—is fitted into a CNC-machined alloy parallelogram that ensures your saddle angle does not change throughout the 20mm of travel. The hardware is titanium and the post is forged aluminum, helping Cane eeCreek reach the sub-300-gram weight. It features an 8mm setback, uncompressed, and since the parallelogram’s 20mm of travel is down and back it smooths out the ride without seriously impacting your saddle height. Only 27.2 diameter is available, but Cane Creek offers shims to adapt to any size up to 31.8mm and it’s compatible with both round and oval rails out of the box. $289; canecreek.com