Best Helmet: Catlike Mixino$229 1 of 8
After riding through sweltering heat for months on end, we've grown quite fond of the Mixino helmet from Spanish company Catlike. Its unique shape and placement of air vents make it one of the most comfortable helmets we've tried and the best at keeping you cool—particularly on those long, slow climbs when a helmet can feel suffocating.
At 220 grams, the Mixino has a "barely-there" feel, and the 15 color options make it easy to match with your favorite kit. All things considered, the Mixino is a near perfect option as your go-to race-day helmet.
Best Shoe: Specialized Audax$250 2 of 8
No matter the kind of ride we're about to tackle, we find ourselves reaching for Specialized's Audax cycling shoes most often. Because of their simple, understated design with no loud logos, the Audax probably isn't going to attract a lot of attention. But when you consider function, durability and comfort, you aren't going to find a better shoe at any price point.
Built for long-distance and exploratory cycling, the Audax utilizes a wider foot bed for a roomy toe box and a heel cup that holds tight—sitting low on the foot for maximum range of motion. Though the uppers seem tough and stiff at first, they break in exceptionally well—which is good for comfort and durability. While we did expect the white pair to get progressively dingier after a year of use, the synthetic leather upper cleans easily and still looks great even after a few rides in the rain.
Best Cycling Kit: POC Raceday Climber Jersey/Contour Aerofoil Bibs3 of 8
Yes, this is one expensive kit. Fortunately, its lightweight properties, aerodynamics and comfort make it well worth its price tag—proving the adage, "You get what you pay for."
While lightweight racing gear often suffers in terms of durability, this kit proved to be the rare exception. After 50 plus rides and 50 plus washing machine spin cycles, it's still our go-to kit, showing little (if any) signs of wear. Such longevity is undoubtedly a testament to the kit's construction and the quality of the materials. And when you consider the cut and fabric choices were designed with aerodynamics as a top priority, it makes every other feature more impressive.
Best Accessory: TiGR Mini$99 4 of 8
There are an abundance of strong, sturdy locks on the market these days. The problem is, most are terribly heavy, which makes transporting them around town a real pain. TiGR's aptly named Mini weighs less than one pound thanks to the use of titanium—one of the strongest and lightest metals on the planet.
The design mounts securely in place of a bottle cage and easily fits around a frame, tire or bike rack for locking. If you're a commuter who frequently locks his or her bike outside, we're sure the TiGR Mini will quickly become your most appreciated piece of gear.
Best Wheelset: Easton EC90 Aero 55$2,800 5 of 8
How many wheelsets perform equally well in time trials, Gran Fondos, and cyclocross races? While we haven't tested the thousands of wheelsets it would take to answer such a question, we can say after a year of testing in almost every condition imaginable, the EC90 Aero 55 is certainly one of the few—and it does so admirably.
Fast on the flats, comfortable over long distances and tough over rugged terrain, this wheelset is one that you'll want to use all the time—not just on race day. And at 29mm, it's one of the widest road wheels you'll find. Another plus? It comes tubeless ready, which means you'll rarely have to worry about flats.
Best Eyewear: Bolle 6th Sense$199 6 of 8
2015 was a great year for eyewear. While the Oakley Jawbreaker got a lot of the attention (and rightly so), the Bolle 6th Sense was our under-the-radar pick of the year. While we appreciate the slightly oversized lens trend, we feel the 6th Sense got the size just right. It's just big enough to provide extra coverage at the top of your field of vision without being unnecessarily bulky, which makes the glasses functional while providing a more aesthetically pleasing look—no matter your face shape.
But what impressed us most was the Trivex lens material, which provides optimal clarity out on the road. The Oleophobic/hydrophobic coating used over the Trivex material was also a pleasant surprise, which repels water and oil quite well.
Best Technology: Garmin Varia Smart Lights$299 7 of 8
The aptly named Varia Smart Lights from Garmin get our pick for best new technology of the year. With the ability to control the lighting functions with any Garmin Edge GPS computer, you can quickly change the settings on your front and rear lights without having to get off the bike.
But what's more impressive is that you probably won't need to adjust the lights—ever. By reading the data from your GPS, the headlight automatically projects further ahead or nearer as the rider's speed increases or decreases. And if you purchase a second taillight, you can rig the system (with the included Garmin wireless remote) to signal right and left turns. This feature improves safety when commuting or riding in groups by negating the need for hand signals, which allows you to keep both hands near the bars (or brakes).
As with all good ideas, why didn't someone think of this a long time ago?