2014 Summer Cycling Gear Guide
Rudy Project Airstorm Helmet$174.99 1 of 20
This helmet is all about the details. The mesh liner inside keeps the top of the head cool and comfortable. The pad on the chinstrap is so helpful it's hard to imagine why every helmet manufacturer hasn't included this same feature. The adjustable dial of the RSR8 Retention System is the best we tested.
The helmet fits so well that you might forget that you're wearing it, and adjustments made mid-ride on the bike are about as easy as it's going to get. The position of the air vents worked surprisingly well on hot days and the highly visible neon color is a great option for commuting to and from work.
Santini NAT Racer Bib Shorts$250 2 of 20
The best feature of the new NAT Racer bibs from Santini is the Next Thermoshock core in the chamois, which is a silicone-based material that reduces bulk and adds comfort. On long rides, we could tell the difference compared to more standard pads—there was considerably less soreness in sensitive areas and fewer hotspots—making these bibs one of our favorites.
The ONDA fabric of the Lycra is made from a single panel and fits the thighs nearly perfect, but do make sure you order the right size. Like a lot of other European brands, the sizing can run small, so order the next size up if you don't enjoy an extra-snug fit.
Garmin Edge 1000 GPS$599 3 of 20
If you like numbers and gadgets, you'll fall in love with the new Garmin Edge 1000. Our favorite features were the Live Track, which lets others (like my spouse) track your progress while your out on rides, and the incoming call feature that links to your cellphone so you can see who that is buzzing from your jersey pocket without having to take your phone out. The Edge wireless remote is also a cool add-on feature, which let's you control the functions of the GPS unit without having to remove your hands from the handlebar.
Rudy Project Proflow$274 4 of 20
The Proflow is a top-of-the-line pair of performance sunglasses that are extremely well made. The CarbonCore Chassis that makes up the frame gives them an extremely sturdy feel without adding weight. While most other sunglasses made of plastics feel fragile, this pair seems to provide the kind of durability you'll need in a pair of glasses used for a rough and tumble sport such as cycling. The adjustability of the glasses was also top-notch, and there was virtually no fogging of the lens during testing—even on uphill climbs. For a performance pair of sunglasses, these are a step above the rest, and the Italian style is a big bonus that was a nice step away from the sometimes too flashy Oakley-style sunglasses.
Revolights$199 5 of 20
There are limitations with what wheels you can hook these lights up with, but the idea and function is to be commended. The tiny LED's that work on timers provide ample light to the road in the front and rear, but it's the side visibility that's the real bonus here—and side impacts are when most accidents happen. It's an ingenious idea that's a really smart option if you commute or if you're forced to put in miles after the sun goes down. And for the price, you'll spend much more than $200 for a pair of lights that work this well to light up the road.
SCOTT Premium Road Shoes$400 6 of 20
In terms of durability and comfort, this shoe from SCOTT is the best of both worlds. The BOA lacing system provides superior adjustment, with two dials to customize the midfoot and upper separately. The HMX carbon outsole is one of the stiffest around, and the power transfer to the pedals is noticeable. If you're looking for a top-of-the-line road shoe, this one should be on your short list.
3T Ergonova Handlebar and ARX Stem$325/$100 7 of 20
The oval shape of the Ergonova from 3T is sublime on long rides and climbing with your hands on the tops. The tight radius of the drops makes transitioning from the hoods easy and quick. The rounded space next to the stem still allows for attachment of clip-on aerobars or an out-front computer mount, which you won't see on a lot of other ergonomic or flat top handlebars.
XX2i Optics France 2$54.99 8 of 20
For the budget minded, the France 2 from XX2i doesn't sacrifice performance because of the low price. The lens quality is on par with sunglasses twice the price, and the adjustability of the nosepiece and arm extensions is better than top tier options. Our pair came with two different lens options (including clear for early morning or cloudy rides) and multiple colored arm extensions and nosepieces to easily change the look.
SCOTT Vanish Evo Helmet$160 9 of 20
It's called the Vanish for a reason. This is the least bulky helmet we tested. It's so form fitting that it almost feels like a hat. The slim shape makes it incredibly light and the straight channel vents let in air easily to keep the head cool on hot days. The MRAS II fit system is easy to adjust. The ConeHead technology keeps the helmet among the top in safety rankings despite the reduction in foam, which helps to keep it from looking as bulbous as other models. This is a race-ready helmet that you'll want to use all the time.
Bike2Power iPhone 5 Power Plus Mount$89.95 10 of 20
Using your phone as a cyclocomputer or GPS on your bike has a couple of disadvantages: you'll wear your battery out pretty quickly, and your phone will probably be ruined if you take a spill. The BikeConsole Power Plus Mount solves both of those problems. The case adds water, shock and impact protection as well as an extended battery pack to keep your phone charged while you ride. That means you can save your money on those expensive GPS devices for something else.
Specialized RBX Comp Jersey/Bib Short Kit$99/$160 11 of 20
The RBX series from Specialized has three sub-lines (Pro, Comp, and Sport). The mid-range Comp is competitively priced considering the quality of the fabrics and the pad in the chamois, which is hefty enough to provide enough cushion for larger riders. The medium jersey I tested was a bit on the loose-side for my 150-pound frame, but if you're packing a little extra around the midsection and looking for a club cut instead of the slimmer race fit, this one will be hard to beat. This kit is tough and built to last.
Vittoria Diamante Pro Radiale$59 12 of 20
Vittoria is well-known for their cotton tubular tires, which are some of the best racing tires around. This clincher version shares some of what make their tubular tires so great—it's fast and handles well through corners and comfortable over rough surfaces. The tires have a 145psi rating, put we recommend running this tire around 100 psi to reduce the threat of punctures and to make your overall riding experience a little more pleasant. If you're interested in using this as a race tire, it's a sub-200 gram weight and grip tread pattern at the shoulders make this a really good option.
Timex Run Trainer 2.0 GPS$180 13 of 20
Not everyone is only a cyclist. If you don't want to buy separate GPS computers for cycling and running, the Timex Run Trainer has a lot to like. It's extremely easy to use and the watch itself isn't nearly as heavy or bulky as we expected. We tested it in conjunction with a more standard cycling GPS, and the numbers were virtually the same. It's also waterproof, compatible with Strava, and easy to sync with your PC or Mac. If you don't like a lot of stuff attached to your handlebars, this might be a good option for you.
Leyzne Pressure Drive CFH$64.99 14 of 20
This all-in-one pump combines a high-pressure hand pump with a CO2 inflator that will help you stay prepared for worst case scenarios. The braided steel reinforced hose and flip threaded chuck are durable and well built. The pump can be used with both Presta and Schrader valves, and can be mounted on a frame or seatpost.
Rudy Project Spinhawk$125 15 of 20
For off the bike, the Spinhawk is a cool, stylish option. The lenses are large, so you may not like them if you have a small face, but the lens quality is on par with the best, and the casual, sporty look will be attractive to most. We also liked that they come in a variety of colors that give both men and women plenty of choices.
Giro Aspect Helmet$165 16 of 20
The design of the Giro Aspect is different than any other helmet on the market. Serious road riders will love it or hate it, which is why we think this helmet is best suited for urban cycling or for those who want to give their standard bike attire a fashionable flair.
The vent design works well to release heat and keep the head cool and the attachable bill is a nice touch that works well on sunny or rainy days. We like that this helmet doesn't look out of place on a quick ride to the grocery store or on a weekend club ride, which makes it more versatile than more race-inspired helmets. It does feel heavier than the other models we tested, so if you're serious about the weight of your equipment this may not be for you. But if you're looking for a helmet that breaks the mold of what a helmet should look like, the Aspect is worth your consideration.
Bellweather Edge Jersey/Bib Short Kit$89.99/$99.99 17 of 20
For an entry-level performance kit, this is an excellent option. The mesh fabric on the chest and side panels of the jersey provided excellent airflow on hot days, and the fabric on the shoulder and back panels was comfortable and contoured well to the body in aggressive riding positions.
The 3D molded chamois was good for medium distance rides of two to three hours, and the flat lock seams was a nice touch to prevent irritation against the skin. The new Bellweather style has improved, giving it the overall look and feel of a kit in a higher category that its price point.
Seido Obex for Samsung Galaxy Note 3$89.99 18 of 20
This case is waterproof and pretty indestructible. We dropped it out on the trails (on purpose) and let it slip into the sink (on purpose) and our phone still worked perfectly. The Galaxy Note 3 is already big and bulky, and the case does make it beefier, but that's to be expected. The screen covering doesn't effect the clarity and didn't make touch-screen functions hard to use. If you're rough on your fun, the Obex might be able to keep your phone around until it's time to upgrade.
Pro Cycling on $10 a Day$14 19 of 20
If you're looking for a good summer read, this autobiography from professional cyclist Phil Gaimon is worth checking out. Gaimon, a self proclaimed plumpy kid who discovered at a late age to have a real talent for bike racing, tells his story of going from couch potato to professional cyclist in just two years. His story is inspiring and provides an eye-opening look at just what it's like to be a professional cyclist on an American Pro Tour team.