From tires to clothing, here are the bits of cycle gear we loved.
My job is to test the product. Then move on to the next thing to see how it stacks up. Consequently, I test piles of biking equipment in a year.
However, I keep very little of it, returning most to the products and donating what they do not need back to a National Interscholastic Cycling Association league.
Obviously, there are things which either get me excited with their innovations or dramatically improve my riding experience that I decide to hang onto them often plunking down my own money to do so.
Bontrager Ion 200 RT/Flare RT Light Set
The frequency of cyclists getting hit by vehicles nowadays is increasing, I’ll not ride on the road anymore without lighting, night or day. Fortunately, Bontrager’s Ion/Flare combo cycle gear set makes this easy.
Although the lights are maybe twice the size of a playing die, high power Cree LEDs and designed reflectors, each one throws a beam, with 200 lumen white light in front along with a light at the rear.
On very long straightaways, like which leads to Mount Lemmon at Tucson, Arizona, the visibility of up to 2 km seemed about right to me.
The lights are fully weather sealed, cost through micro USBs, clip to detach from a bar or pole easily through a built in rubber belt, and even an auto adapt to changing conditions.
I really like that even after the battery is drained, there is still a 30 second battery save mode that keeps the lights going until you are hopefully safe from the street
Goodyear Escape Bicycle Tires
When automotive tire giant Goodyear cycle gear entered the biking market earlier this season, I was pretty disdained about the development.
Tires are getting so good nowadays that I thought Goodyear would need to do something very special to make an impression.
However, following year ride on a number of new treads I must admit that the company’s designs are pretty damn impressive.
Generally, the tires sport rubber compounds which are grippy yet long wearing and resilient. Not one of the four models I have ridden are exceptionally mild, but they’re competitive.
The standout model for me is the Escape mountain bike, an all around trail model with equally spaced knobs which have demonstrated fast rolling, but nevertheless Velcro sticky in conditions which range from hardpack to loam.
I was initially disappointed that 2.35 centimeters were the largest diameter, though these are larger than several models in that range. In addition to, Goodyear has since established a 2.6.
I also was impressed by the County, a 35c gravel model with a slick top and microknobs on the side for a grip that I’ve exposed to nasty, sharp desert conditions for months without a flat.
I do wish it came in some broader options, along with 650B, though I imagine which will follow.
Another cycle gear to try out is the Tester’s mountain bicycles with a set of carbon monoxide built with Berd fabric spokes was probably the most unusual and convincing goods I attempted
Yes, you read that right: the spokes are made from a polyethylene material dubbed PolyLight which resembles sail or Dyneema fabric for its combination of resistance to tearing and cuts and low weight.
According to Berd, his spells are between 30 and 200% lighter compared to a wide range of steel spokes, but 50 to 100% stronger.
Compared to a set of comparable wheels, 29 inches Enve 640s to be exact, these wheels, with 36 millimeter wide Nox Kitsuma carbon footprints and the DT Swiss 240 hubs, have been a pound lighter.
But weight is only part of the story. Due to the elasticity from the spokes, the wheels have a springy, full of energy ride unlike anything else I have tried.
They make the bike feel explosive and frisky, to the point that I have found railing and technology corners climbing with new confidence and exuberance.
100% Speedtrap Sunglasses
This moto eyewear firm has burst onto the biking scene in the last year or two courtesy of its sponsorship of 3 world champion Peter Sagan.
Do not get me wrong: this cycle gear item is every bit worthy of the champion, with my favourite model, the Sagan edition Speedtrap, featuring enormous coverage, adjustable temples and nosepiece, and ridiculously flashy red-on reddish mirror styling.
Optics are crystal, and wind is stopped dead, which, for somebody like me with dry eyes, is a godsend.
The Speedcraft and S2 models are just as good. Performance aside, I cannot help, but think that Sagan is only clearly helping to make brazen, mirrored, shield style sun glasses great again.
Kitsbow Front Range Merino Sweatshirt
Once more this company From Petaluma, California, strikes it out from the park with a seemingly straightforward design that turns out to be the most comfortable, high performing, best looking part of riding clothing of the year.
This long sleeved top fits like a tailored shirt, keeps you as warm and dry as the techiest race pieces available on the market, but feels as soft and comfortable as a favorite soccer jersey.
The nylon face fabric is somehow stretchy and rugged, shrugging off rocks and errant branches from the occasional crash, whilst the Schoeller panels on the wrists and elbows are more burly.
I take this piece of average weight in my pack on high mountains days, wearing it nonstop in the autumn and spring on a base, or layer it for heat in winter.
The merino inside means you can use it day after day with no whiff of odor
Shimano XTR 9100
Suffice it to say that the 10-51 cassette is massive, the changing is silky, and pedaling is as easy as a butter churn.
In the mean time, the wheels are spectacular to look at, plus they seem like they will never fail. Will this be the onset of a mountain bicycle resurgence for Shimano?
Who knows, hopefully it presages fast exits from technology in SLX and XT. In either case, if I was building my fantasy mountain bicycle, it could be equipped with the 9100.
I was shocked when I realized that 21 of our 25 test mountains bicycles for 2019 they were equipped with SRAM components.
Of the remaining four with Shimano, only one had the XTR 9100 group that is new, and that is the drivetrain that won my heart.
Look, SRAM has done a superb work on creating and winning the 1x marketplace, and Shimano has fallen way behind, but I’m relieved to find the Japanese manufacturer has begun making a comeback since it can make tough sporting gear which usually just goes and goes, and we need competition to drive innovation.
Henty Enduro 2.0 Hydration Pack
Waist packs are all the rage, but they do not work for me personally because you either need to ratchet them so tight that it is hard to breathe or they bounce around like a drunken Olympian.
Enter the Henty Enduro, which mates the low, off the rear fit of a bottom pack with the stability of a back hydration bag. Fundamentally, this is the waist on steroids, with the fat carried low on the lumbar, with space for a 3 litre urinary bladder and much more.
Huge wraparound belt wings attached to a pared down, mesh shoulder upper. The top 50% of the pack offers stability when you are slamming paths without sweaty, sticky, awkward sense of all of that burden on your back.
Henty’s clamshell, zippered pack design has plenty of space inside for a day of necessities, plus all manner of straps, daisy chains, and mesh pockets for sundries. Best of all, this second edition comes with a tailor-made, three-liter HydraPak reservoir.
My only objection: the strap on the envelope flap that keeps it all down should be three inches longer, which would make it easier to lash down bulky bits and pieces.
Still, for one-day outings, I never reach for any other cycle gear.
Blackburn Mammoth Flip Pump
For years, the Wayside Hybrid floor pump was my go-to for backcountry endeavors, thanks to its combo of high volume and built-in pressure gauge.
This cycle gear is discontinued now, I assume because it felt as heavy as a small barbell. I have to admit that, with a clean swivel design that opens to a foot peg, a long flexible hose that makes airing in the field easy, and a full-metal shaft for durability, this pump is every bit as good as my old standby—except a lot lighter.
I miss the pressure measure but, truthfully, have been carrying an independent gauge anyway.
Dynaplug Megapill Plug Kit
Thanks to Dynaplug, I almost can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve actually suffered a flat in the field and installed a tube.
For all but the most egregious of holes and rips, this little cycle gear kit—which has a snub nose, a hard tip, and gummy plugs to seal up tears so you can retain your tubeless setup—is pretty much all you need.
I’ll admit that it’s unnerving the first few times you have to shove the metal, plug-wielding proboscis through the damaged tire casing, thereby causing a bigger hole.
But I’ve yet to come across a puncture I couldn’t seal (though one large gash took two plugs).
While there are now lots of plug kits out there, I love Dynaplug’s aluminum, pill-shaped tool, as it neatly houses everything you need for a quick fix.
Advice: unless you exclusively ride road, go for the three-pack Megaplug cycle gear upgrade as the larger diameter make sealing holes simpler.