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Mio Fuse$149.99 1 of 9
The Fuse from Mio is one of the best ideas we've seen this year. While heart rate straps can be a pain to wear around your chest, the Fuse incorporates a more comfortable wrist strap that's just as accurate. It's also Bluetooth capable and syncs with most bike computers and apps, including Garmin, Cateye, MapMyRide and Strava.
What we liked best was the vibration motor that alerts you as you move through the heart rate zones. In addition to this feature, there's a small LED that changes colors depending on which zone you're in. This makes it easy to stay in your target heart rate zone without having to keep your eyes glued to your bike computer—which is definitely safer out on the road.
Since the Fuse is also an activity tracker, there's plenty of other features, too, such as a step counter, calorie calculator, pace and distance metrics, and a goal tracker. You can also keep track of all this on the Mio Global app, which is customizable depending on which activities or metrics you'd like to keep track of. Though we used the Fuse mostly as a heart rate alternative, the activity tracking features were so plentiful we ended up wearing it throughout the day instead of a watch.
Light & Motion Urban 800 Commuter Combo$220 2 of 9
Named the 800 for the 800 lumens emitted by the front light, this combo set from Light & Motion packs more punch per dollar than any other set we've tested. Though marketed for commuters, we had no problem using these lights on the trail or the road. At high speeds, the high setting will give you plenty of light in complete darkness, and the medium setting is plenty suitable for anything under 20 mph. On the trail, you can use it on the handlebar or as a helmet mount—with the latter being a better option because of the direct beam (trail lights spread more).
The only thing we liked better than the front light of this combo was the rear light. Undoubtedly one of the best we've used during the day or night, the 180-degree visibility you'll get from the amber side lights is one of the better designs out there. At 70 lumens, the high beam is over 10 times brighter than other standard tail light options and can be seen in the daylight from over a half-mile away. It also charges more quickly than most other lights we've tested, and will last up to eight hours on the flash setting.
Jet Roll II Phantom$75 3 of 9
If you're not a fan of funny looking saddle bags, you'll want to give the Phantom a try. Like the other Jet Roll products from Just Enough Tools, the Phantom is a tool roll with three inner pockets that attaches to the back of the saddle with a leather strap and buckle. What makes the Phantom different from other models is the leather used in the roll itself, which is high quality and stretches perfectly to fit all those awkward shapes of your tools.
We were able to fit a patch kit, multi-tool, tire lever, tube and one CO2 inflator and cartridge. Overall, the Phantom is a stylish, durable option for any cyclist looking for an alternative to the more standard saddlebag. Available in black, cream or titanium.
TiGR Mini$99 4 of 9
There are plenty of good U-locks out there, but there aren't many (if any) that you wouldn't mind lugging around with you while you're out riding around. At just 0.9 pounds, the TiGR Mini is probably the only lock I've found that doesn't weigh more than my entire bike—due mostly to the low weight of titanium. The good news is that titanium is also one of the strongest metals around despite its low weight. Thus, the TiGR Mini does not sacrifice any safety features to reach its dainty size.
What we really liked about the TiGR Mini was its design. The shape itself makes it easy to lock the frame and a wheel to almost anything, and the mount that replaces the bottle cage on the seat tube works seamlessly. The locking mechanism uses a rotary disc style as opposed to a pin tumbler mechanism, which makes it harder to pick and less likely to jam up as a result of dirt and grime.
Skratch Labs Cookie Mix$8.50 5 of 9
If you're tired of "another" energy bar, say hello to some goodness. Nutritionally similar to what you'd find in most other packaged options, this mix from Skratch Labs is easy to digest because it lacks the excess ingredients that can lead to gastrointestinal distress. And cookies, by the way, are super easy to pack and quick to cook. Can you think of a better alternative for your next long, fall ride?
Bontrager Classique$269 6 of 9
The shoelace thing with cycling shoes is kind of becoming a craze. While we're still in favor of the BOA closure systems because of the ability for fine-tuning on the bike, the Classique still proves to be a fine option on a few different levels. The classic, retro styling looks great, and the Clarino material (similar to kangaroo leather) is a well-made alternative to flashier models that use other synthetic materials that are sometimes not so durable.
After a few rides, the leather of the upper conforms to the foot nicely without stretching. The laces do relax but didn't affect our riding as much as expected. We were surprised by how comfortable the Classiques truly are. They're really light (220 grams), more breathable than we thought, and incorporate a molded footbed to give you a custom-fit feel. And if you're looking for the icing on the cake, compared to the similarly-designed Giro Empire SLX ($350), they're nearly $100 cheaper.
Bolle 6th Sense Sunglasses$199 7 of 9
The move toward a larger lens is a bit of a trend that, in some cases, is more of a fashion statement than a feature that contributes to function. Models such as the Oakley Jawbreaker provide good coverage, but on the downside can look awkward—particularly on medium- to smaller-sized faces. What we love about the 6th Sense from Bolle is that the lens is slightly larger in height to increase your field of vision but isn't unnecessarily bulky.
This gives the styling a timeless aesthetic that will outlast trends. As an added bonus, the S version of the same model, which utilizes a more compact frame, is available for smaller faces. And as with all of Bolle's products, the lens clarity is on par with the best available.
Catlike Mixino$299 8 of 9
The Spanish company Catlike has recently moved its line of helmets to the states, and it's a welcome addition for us. At 220 grams, it's one of the lighter helmets you'll find anywhere, and it's noticeable on the bike. The standout feature of the Mixino is undoubtedly the cool design—and we aren't just talking about its unique looks. The ventilation of the Mixino is probably the best in its class, which is particularly noticeable when your speed slows on climbs or on those warm days when a helmet can feel suffocating.
Each of the retention system's contact points at the rear of the helmet is fully adjustable and should fit a variety of head shapes and sizes. There are also 15 different color options of the Mixino to choose from, so you should be able to find something to match your kit for that upcoming Gran Fondo.