All the Right Stuff for Biking

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine

1999 Family Vacation Guide, A Wheelie Good Time

All the Right Stuff for Biking
By Douglas Gantenbein

This year, bicycle buyers will find more and superior features for the same or lower prices — goodies such as better front shocks, smoother shifting, and lighter frames. Take the Trek 6500 mountain bike. It has a light, tough aluminum frame, smooth-shifting Shimano eight-speed gearing, and a Rock Shox Judy C to smooth out the bumps on the trail. It's a great bike for adults who want to act a little like kids in July or August, yet it costs only $750 — a great bargain. Another good buy is Schwinn's Moab 2 ($900). It also has an aluminum frame and slightly more aggressive geometry for riders who like to go hard and fast. It also comes with a Judy shock, along with Shimano shifters and tough Mavic wheels. Youngsters, meanwhile, will enjoy the Marin Bay View Trail Bike ($315). It comes with all the big-bike features — front RST 281 suspension fork, Shimano Revo seven-speed shifters, and comfortable Marin saddle.

For rides confined to pavement, the Bianchi Alfana ($850) will make the miles melt away while oozing Italian panache. It has a smooth-riding cromoly frame, Campagnolo shifters, and a triple chainring that takes the bite out of hills. For serious touring, the Bruce Gordon BLT ($1,255) comes complete with front and rear luggage racks, mountain-bike gearing, hand-built wheels for strength and a smooth ride, and a sturdy frame designed to haul big loads.

If the weather turns sour while you're out, you'll be glad you're wearing Performance's Ultra Pro Jacket ($130), an affordable piece of foul-weather gear with a CoolMax mesh lining to wick moisture and a windproof, highly water-resistant Ultrex microfiber shell. When a jacket is too much, Patagonia's fleece Flyer Vest ($99) is light and packable; the front is lined with windproof fabric, and the back is made of easy-breathing, fast-drying Capilene. For a loud proclamation that you're a biker to be reckoned with, Primal Wear's wry "Bite Me" Jersey ($60) keeps you cool and comfortable with its CoolMax fabric and long front zipper. In a traditional snug-fit short, Pearl Izumi's venerable Classic Short ($70) for men and women remains the standard. Its eight-panel construction and sturdy fabric ensure durability and a great fit. InMotion's Rock Short for men ($65) is a loose-fitting short with padding to ease saddle pain. For an even more relaxed feel, Zoic's Vigor de Luxe men's short ($50) has a baggy look yet is still functional due to its twill fabric, CoolMax liner, and antimicrobial pad. Young riders will feel like grown-up cyclists in the Bellwether Magic Eye Jersey ($32) and Youth Chase Short ($25).

For footwear, Cannondale's Telos ($75) accepts all SPD-style pedals while providing walking comfort and traction — not to mention non-bike-geek looks — when you're out of the saddle. For a more technical shoe, the Specialized Mountain Comp ($100) has a deep tread for muddy conditions and is made of fast-drying synthetic materials. It also takes any SPD-compatible pedal clip.

No one should leave the driveway unless their cranium is cradled in something crashproof. Bell's Image Pro 2000 ($75) has excellent ventilation, a visor, and a snug fit at a wallet-friendly price. Even more affordable is the Specialized Air Cut ($40), yet it still has 17 head-cooling vents and a skull-cradling fit. For younger riders, Giro's new Wheelie ($35) fits kids five and up while keeping their heads both safe and cool.

Cycling bags are useful accessories, whether you're planning a monthlong trek or are just tooling down the road from your vacation cabin to get fresh doughnuts and a paper. Among the best bags for touring or light loads are Ortlieb's welded, waterproof bags. Their Mini-Biker Lite front panniers ($165 per pair) combined with a set of rear panniers ($190 per pair) have a total capacity of 3,600 cubic inches — enough for a week's worth of supplies or more. Jandd's Rear Rack Pack II ($60) mounts atop a rear luggage rack to hold lunch or keep drinks cool with its foam insulation. It has a zippered baffle that, when undone, allows the Rack Pack to hold bulky or awkward cargo, such as that bottle of Cabernet from a Napa winery. Blackburn's Expedition Rack ($45) is made of sturdy welded aluminum that will accept any pannier and can bear just about any load you care to pedal around. If some of your cargo consists of preriders, the Burley d'Lite trailer ($380) holds two youngsters (up to 100 pounds) securely with an interior harness system and aluminum roll bar. For longer rides with a four- to eight-year-old, the Bike Nashbar Trailgator ($90) converts an adult bike and child's bike into a tandem.

For unexpected repairs, the Topeak McGuyver multitool ($69-$74) may hold the world record for features — 33 — including Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers. Oh, yes, and a fish scaler. To keep liquefied on the road, Cannondale's Poseidon hydration pack ($100) carries up to 90 ounces of liquid in its reservoir, plus has room for jackets and energy bars. For topping off the tires, the Schwinn Typhoon pump ($130) comes with luxe leather-wrapped handles, a smooth-pumping brass barrel, and an accurate pressure gauge. Keep track of your miles with a Cat Eye Enduro 2 cyclecomputer ($28), which lets you store two wheel sizes so you can switch between a road and mountain bike without resetting the computer. And to make riding safer during the twilight hours, the Specialized Vegas Headlight ($50 in Ni-Cad version, including charger) provides a powerful three-watt beam.

Photographs by Clay Ellis

Copyright 1999, Outside magazine

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