Easton’s EA70 XCT 29-inch wheels are some of the easiest-sealing we’ve found. They’re stiff enough for 120-mm bikes, and we dig the stealth styling. We run them with Maxxis Ikon tires ($79 each), which are so sticky on just about every type of terrain—from hardpack to jaggy rock—they’ve become our favorite all-arounders.
Made of an incredibly stretchy proprietary fabric with virtually no seams, the Castelli BodyPaint 2.0 are the plushest bibs we’ve worn. Thanks to the lack of hems or rough spots to dig into the skin, we had zero -chafing or hot spots even after 24 hours in the saddle.
With an admirably stiff nylon sole, an upper that’s softer than most shoes at this price, and the same fit as more expensive models, Giro’s Apeckx is perfect for everyday use. Though we miss the variable-height insole, it’s hard to complain at this price.
The Mavic Plasma SLR helmet has a comfy and durable fit system, and even after months of hot-weather riding, the antimicrobial padding never got nasty. And then there’s the wicked aesthetics: it just looks cooler and faster than any other lid out there.
Go tubeless and you’ll never go back. Not only is this combo—Stan’s Alpha Pro wheelset with Hutchinson’s Fusion 3 Road Tubeless tires ($110 each)—light (we trimmed a third of a pound over another high-end wheelset). It’s also less jarring, because you can run them at lower pressures without fear of flatting.