Blink Steady Bike LightRoad riding this time of year begins to makes us ambivalent. On one hand, the sharp air and high pressure of autumn can make for some of the most beautiful, memorable days of the season. On the other hand, the gathering cold and shorter days are just a reminder of the harsh winter riding ahead. It’s time to begin bundling up and making to sure you’re visible in the protracted gloaming hours. We present six of our favorite pieces of new road cycling apparel for cool autumn days and gathering winter.
-- Aaron Gulley
This genius little taillight has found a permanent home on my road bike, and I’ve especially appreciated it in the last few months, when I’ve been unexpectedly caught out after dark more than once. First off, it’s a gorgeous piece of design work: hewn from solid aluminum, with no external clamps to prevent theft and no buttons to bump and inadvertently turn it on. Inside the sleek unit is both an accelerometer, which turns on the light when your bike moves, and a light sensor to insure it only works when it’s dark. And depending on which way you orient the light, it emits either a pulsing light or a solid beam—blink or steady. That means after you install it on your post, with the turn of three allen bolts, you never have to worry about getting stuck in the dark again. Brilliant. ($125)
Rapha LS Country JerseyWe are not usually fans of blaze orange hi-vis cycling wear—sure it works great because it makes you as glaring as a traffic cone, but does anyone really like looking like a rolling construction site? Leave it to Rapha to make being more visible look good. This long-sleeve jersey is cut from a downy mid-weight merino and has oversize rear pockets for stuffing extra warmies. All three models have reflective tape out back for visibility, but the red Norway theme and especially the orange Holland version should give cars ample warning from a distance. ($220)
Pearl Izumi PRO Thermal ¾ Bib TightIf there’s one thing we don’t mind about fall riding it’s the bib knicker, perhaps because we also wear these a good portion of the year in summer because of our 7,200-foot altitude here in Santa Fe. Pearl’s are cut nice and high in the front to make sure you don’t get any cold seeping in. They are better than ever this year, too, as Pearl equips them with the brand new 4D Chamois. While more and more companies shift to formed foams with ridges and bumps and seams in their pads (even Assos, except at their ridiculously premium top end), Pearl has crafted this new chamois to be totally smooth and seam-free. We haven’t ridden it yet, but it looks likely to become a new favorite. ($185)
POC Octal AeroWhile all the brands that have rolled out aero lids exclaim over their efficiency—and we’re definitely not opposed to free watts—what we might like most about this new concept is the added warmth and protection from the elements. We grab an aero helmet on cold, windy, rainy days, when the slightly reduced ventilation is a good thing and the extra shell keeps out precipitation. We’ve been particularly fond of the Giro Air Attack in that respect, but the Octal Aero might just give it a run for its money on weight alone. The Aero is said to be just 13 grams heavier than the standard version, which would put it around 210 grams, which is lighter than most brands’ standard top-end road helmet. And while POC makes a big deal to say how well the Aero ventilates, it’s clear that the extra coverage should also mean less wind flow than the massive vents on the standard Octal. ($300)
Lake CX145Full-fledged winter cleats like the Sidi Hydro and the Specialized Defroster are great for the iciest days, but most of the year they are overkill. Enter the CX145, which are not as hefty as a winter boot but are lightly insulated and still watertight thanks to the interior barrier liner. The synthetic and waxed-canvas upper looks hardwearing, and the double Boa closure should be easy to operate, even in heavy gloves. The shoe comes in both road and mountain versions (MX145), with corresponding three-and two-bolt cleat patterns, and we’re especially happy to see that the road version gets a bit of lugging for foul weather. This is a shoe you’d wear in fall and spring in the coldest wettest places in the country, though in drier climes, south as Colorado, Utah, and the desert Southwest, it might be enough for the entire winter. ($245)
Giro Hoxton LF GloveThese aren’t the warmest gloves out there, and they are billed as a city model. But we’ve found them to work great down to about 40 degrees, which is toasty enough for most fall mornings, and they also layer well under a shell for added protection. We just can’t resist the soft hand and classy look of the Merino wool, and we love that it keeps our hands warm even when it’s damp or wet. There’s even touch-screen capability in the index fingers, a function we feel should be standard on every full-finger glove. And beyond the good looks and functionality, the price is definitely right. ($35)
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