1. PRO Microfiber Smart Silicon Handlebar Tape, $19
No muss, no fuss. We love PRO's bar tape because it has the same sticky adhesive found on the fingertips of many modern, full-finger gloves. It won't wear with use and start slipping. But when it needs to be replaced, it pulls away from the bar without tearing or leaving a mess behind. An added plus: The durable microfiber finish, which feels like leather, is one of the few tapes in white that doesn't start to smudge and show dirt from the first ride. Not many bike shops stock the tape, but PRO is a Shimano brand, so any decent retailer should be able to order it. Info: pro-bikegear.com
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2. Park CC-2 Chain Checker, $28
Maintain your drivetrain. This simple blue implement is probably the easiest diagnostic tool you'll ever use. Just insert the pins between the chain links, pull the swingarm gauge tight and check the reading to see if your chain is worn and needs to be replaced. Unlike some chain checkers, the CC-2 is compatible with 9-, 10- and 11-speed chains. Info: parktool.com
3. Gore Ride-On Professional Brake Cable System, $65
Keep it clean. Gore's sealed road-brake cables keep out dirt and grime. The cable is coated with a low-friction, nonstick treatment (identical to nonstick cooking surfaces), then installed in a lubricated housing. Sealed ferrules and external seals add another barrier. The compressionless housing adds a crisp, snappy feel to brake systems. It's compatible with Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo, and sealed shifter sets are also available. Info: rideoncables.com
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4. Tacx Carbon Assembly Compound, $15/80g tube; $5/5g packet
Holds securely. If your bike has a carbon-fiber frame, seatpost or handlebar, you need carbon assembly paste to provide a secure grip and avoid over tightening. Tacx's version is a special grease embedded with small particles that help adhesion. (It feels slightly gritty between your fingers.) Apply sparingly to the inside of seat tubes or stem/bar clamps to improve hold. Tacx claims you can reduce your torque by 30 percent, but we recommend the manufacturer's specifications. One caution: Use only on carbon clamping surfaces and keep it away from bearing surfaces, where it can cause binding or premature wear. Info: tacx.com
5. SwissStop Full FlashPro brake pads and holders $55 (per wheel)
Better braking. Brake pads either grind down with use or, over time, become too hard for effective slowing. We've tried every brand, but haven't found one that works better than SwissStop. (The company also makes the pads for SRAM's road brakes.) Less expensive versions are available for aluminum rims, and you can also replace just the pads ($50). Campagnolo users need the RacePro ($62). Info: swissstop.ch