Beat the Traffic (cont.)

Big-City Speed Dream

Sep 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

LeMond Poprad l $990

Credit the arcane sport of cyclocross—a wintertime racing endeavor that covers dirt, snow, mud, and pavement alike—for a rig as versatile as the Poprad. At first glance, it looks like a road bike, with drop handlebars and relatively skinny tires. But a closer inspection reveals its burly side: The Bontrager Jones tires have grippy knobs that bite into dirt, the Shimano clipless pedals were built for mountain bikers, and the Avid cantilever brakes have stopping power to spare.

One compromise: The Poprad's Reynolds 853 steel frame is top-drawer, but the trade-off comes with more economical Shimano Sora derailleurs and cranks that may wear out over time. While the setup is perfect for dashing through mud bogs, the Poprad is equally suited to commuters who face everyday treacheries like jagged potholes, errant sewer grates, and slush-covered streets. Sure, a mountain bike can gobble up road detritus better, but you'll roll along at road-bike speeds on the Poprad—the 700x35 tires are narrow enough not to flex and waste energy like fatties, and you can tuck down low in a headwind with the road-style bars. Try to resist the temptation to draft behind tractor trailers on the interstate.

Dress Up Your Wheels: Pearl Izumi's Microsensor tights ($110) are brushed inside, sleek outside, and comfortable over a wide temperature range.  • Lower-tech but no less functional, the Performance Rain Jacket's ($20) thick vinyl makes it shower-curtain waterproof, while mesh side panels ventilate.  • Louis Garneau's Wings helmet ($75) has an easy-to-adjust strap that snugs to the back of your head to keep the lid from squirming around.  • The Italian-made Rudy Project Skeey glasses ($110) sport vented, interchangeable lenses and malleable earpieces for a solid fit.  • Sidi's Rampa 2 shoes ($119) are cut from synthetic leather and mesh that hold up to road and trail filth; lugged soles make for easy walking.

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