Sugoi RSE KitJersey $200/Bibshorts $230 1 of 16
The RSE Kit is for road cyclists who have racing in mind. The fit is tight through the torso and arms for increased aerodynamics. Beware though that the slim fit will show off any extra weight you've packed on through the winter. The construction is high quality, featuring flatlock seams that reduce irritation and Revoflex mesh on the shoulders, underarms and paneling along the back to keep you cool as the weather begins to warm up.
The FXE chamois is one of the better we tested at wicking away moisture on hot days, and the lack of inseam and bulk made this model comfortable during hard efforts. The silicone panels in the legs of the bibs replaces more traditional elastic that's often used in cycling shorts, which we felt improved comfort during the pedaling motion.
Oakley Prizm Road Radarlock$240 2 of 16
If you're looking for clarity, the Prizm Road lens that's used in most of Oakley's cycling sunglasses is about as good as you are going to find. Unlike other sunglasses that use a lens coating to block UVA, UVB, UVC and blue light, Oakley actually builds this technology into the lens, which makes your field of vision incredibly sharp.
We found the size of the Prizm lens to be well suited for smaller to medium sized faces while providing excellent coverage in the multiple positions you might find yourself in on the bike. While some sunglasses won't fit very well with certain brands of helmets, we didn't have that problem with the Radarlock. This model also comes with a second orange-tinted lens that's a good option for spring when there's limited visibility on early morning and evening rides.
Fizik R5B$184.99 3 of 16
The "B" in the new R5B shoe from Fizik stands for the BOA dial closure, a steel lace that provides even distribution of pressure across the shoe closure. The Microtex upper with reflective inserts that makes up a majority of the shoe has a tough, durable feel that should improve longevity, making it a good option for training and high-mileage commuting.
While it's a little heavier (at 260 grams) than the R3B model because of the lack of full carbon sole and sailcloth straps, the weight is a compromise for the decrease in price. As with all of Fizik's line of cycling shoes, we found these to be among the best of the bunch in comfort and craftsmanship.
ORP Smart Horn and Bike Light$65 4 of 16
The Orp combines two 70-lumen lights with two different horn sounds to create a safety device that's well designed and useful no matter what kind of riding you do. The louder horn sound is 96 decibels and will definitely attract audience on the street. The lower sound, at 76 decibels, can be used in more friendly situations.
The polycarbonate case that holds the unit in place is durable, weatherproof and fits most handlebars. Total run time with the light on constant mode is 6 hours and can be recharged with the USB cable provided.
American Classic Sprint 350 Tubeless Wheels$899.99 5 of 16
This tubeless alloy wheelset form American Classic offers a competitive weight (1396 grams for the set) compared to more expensive carbon wheels, making them a good choice for cyclists looking for a climbing or race wheel on a budget. The 22mm rim depth and CNC machined brake track perform well in the variety of weather conditions that spring is known to dish out. The 28-(front) and 32- (rear) spoke count make these wheels sturdy and stable, and should last for many years worth of hard riding.
The tubeless option should also be attractive to most long distance cyclists, as the benefits include a more comfortable ride and a greater resistance to pinch flats. And if you do have a flat on the road, tubeless wheels can be used with a tube in an emergency. Overall, this is a wheel that's built well, rolls fast, and offers great value for the price.
Skin's Women's Tremola Jersey and Bibshort$119/$189.99 6 of 16
Skins, a company known for compression recovery clothing, uses similar technology in their new line of cycling clothes designed to improve performance on the bike. The gradient compression is said to reduce muscle fatigue and improve circulation according to their lab results—but this is admittedly harder to prove during our own testing.
What we can say is that the shorts and jersey are made with high-quality materials that are meant for racing and high-mileage training. The Multi-D Elastic Interface Technology chamois is designed and engineered in Italy and is every bit as comfortable as those you'll find in other high-end cycling apparel options.
Gironimo! Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy$14 7 of 16
One of the more fun books on cycling that you'll read this year, Tim Moore recounts his attempt to cycle the course of the 1914 Giro d'Italia, which actually isn't the crazy part. Moore rides the route on a 100-year-old bike that he builds himself!
You don't have to love or know the history of cycling to find yourself rooting him along on his quest until the very end. Moore's book is amusing, wonderfully written, and hard to put down—a real treat for anyone who likes riding bikes.
Rudy Project Rydon With Impact X-2 Lens$249.99 8 of 16
The photochromic Impact X-2 lens used in the Rydon from the Italian based Rudy Project claim a 19 to 78 percent light transmittance range—one of the largest you'll find in any pair of sports sunglasses. We found the Rydon to be best suited for low-light conditions that are common in early and evening cycling during the spring. While you won't get the really dark tint for really bright days, the lens goes practically to clear, making them a reasonable option to wear for eye protection when the sun isn't even out yet.
The Impact X-2 lens was designed for the military and is said to be nearly indestructible. The frame, made of a blend of magnesium and aluminum, is just as sturdy and provides a good amount of flex to fit most faces. This combination along with classic styling make the Rydon a pair of sunglasses that should last for years and never go out of style.
Lizard Skins La Sal 1.0 Gloves$40 9 of 16
One of the growing trends in cycling is retro styling, such as the popular Giro Empire SLX cycling shoe that uses shoestrings instead of straps. The La Sal 1.0 gloves are a nod in this direction, forgoing mesh and synthetic materials in favor of classic black (or white) leather.
Our guess is that the gloves of yesteryear didn't have as much padding on the palm of the hand as the La Sal does—a feature you'll appreciate over rough terrain and on longer rides. The leather on the top of the hand breathes better than we expected, and because of the material, we think it'll be more durable too. For an added plus your hands will appreciate, pair these gloves with Lizard Skin's DSP 2.5mm or 3.8mm bar tape to make your ride even more plush.
Hincapie Mercury KitJersey $130/Bibs $140 10 of 16
Sometimes summer temperatures arrive earlier than you might expect. When they do, the Mercury jersey and bibshort from Hincapie Sportswear is one of the kits you'll want to pull out of the closet. The ultra-light Aerator Plush mesh fabric wicks away moisture to keep your core cool. The VelociTek mesh in the collar and sleeves provide a snug fit but are also designed to increase airflow and evaporate sweat from your body.
The Coldblack technology incorporated in the shorts is a finishing treatment Hincapie uses to reduce heat rays in darker fabrics. Hincapie's Pro chamois is equipped with a seamless construction that's abrasion-free and has a center relief channel that promotes circulation—making it one of the more comfortable options you'll find at the $140 price point. This kit is the bargain-buy of the bunch, and it's a good choice if you're looking for something you'll be able to wear during the spring and summer.
Specialized Audax$299 11 of 16
When it comes to comfort, the details of a shoe can make a big difference. Most Boa dials close the shoe with even pressure in the forefoot, mid and upper. The Audax uses the Boa only on the strap of the upper, which lets you fine-tune adjustment over each part of the foot. With the Audax, you can loosen the shoe the same way you tighten it by turning the dial in the opposite direction—something you'll appreciate when you attempt to adjust the fit while on the bike.
The styling is simple, with no loud logos or color schemes to attract attention. The design—complete with quality leather on the upper and a stiff carbon sole that will fit into any era—is also timeless.
The ergonomics of the footbed prevent foot numbness and were comfortable on rides longer than 60 miles. The pad inserted into the heel and the material in the upper prevents that uncomfortable "digging" into the foot that's common after a few hours on the bike or when the shoe is tight. If you're looking for a high-performance shoe that's fit for long-mileage training or racing, you won't be disappointed with the Audax.
Lazer Helium Helmet With MIPS$230 12 of 16
There are two details that standout on the Lazer Helium. The first is the Rollsys adjustment system that's located on the top of the helmet instead of at the base of the head. The thumb wheel is smooth and allows for accurate, precise adjustment that's easy to accomplish while you're on the bike. By moving the placement of the dial, the Helium also opens up the space at the back of the helmet, which is perfect if you need additional space for long hair or a ponytail.
The second detail, and perhaps most important, is the inclusion of MIPS technology (Multi-directional Impact Protection System). This adds a layer of protection between your head and the helmet that allows it to slide, which is important for side impacts common in cycling crashes. MIPS technology is being offered in a few different helmet models and does increase the overall price—but is there really a dollar value you can place on decreasing your chances of a head injury?
Allen ASL 5XR Bike Light Combo$54.99 13 of 16
In the spring, you may not need to use your biggest, brightest light all the time. When you still need to be seen, the Allen ASL 5XR combo will do the job. We like the overall value this package offers, with the lightweight aluminum housing that's aesthetically pleasing and durable being the star of the show.
The headlight in this combo uses a 5-watt bulb that can be recharged with a USB cable. It's also weatherproof, has an adjustable front beam, and is 280 lumens. Add in the 6 LED rear taillight and you've got a pretty good buy at $54.
DZR Strasse Urban Cycling Shoes$120 14 of 16
Every time you jump on the bike doesn't have to be a training ride. Sometimes you just want to grab a cup of coffee or make a quick trip to the grocery store. When you do, it can be a pain to wear cycling shoes, and using sneakers with clipless pedals isn't much better.
The DZR Strasse offers an alternative, combining the ability to use SPD cleats in a regular trainer that looks cool and doesn't alter your stride when you're off the bike. The sole is pretty stiff, which is good while you're on the bike. The overall weight is on the heavy side, and the styling may be for the younger crowd—but we found them to be extremely durable and an excellent option when you just want to cruise around town.
Pearl Izumi P.R.O. In-R-Cool Bibshorts$180 15 of 16
The P.R.O. In-R-Cool is a bibshort that we feel is best suited for high-mileage training in hot weather. The Lycra is thick and sturdy, and the mesh upper dries quickly. The Coldblack technology in the panels reflects heat well, and the wide suspender straps lay flat under your jersey instead of bunching, which can be common with bibshorts.
The 4D chamois is one of the thicker pads you'll find, which is either good or bad depending on your preference. We think it's a good choice for longer training rides when you might need a little extra cushion. The inseam is also on the long end of the spectrum, which is perfect if you're a cyclist who prefers modesty rather than the slim and short euro cuts.