Gear Up: All the right stuff for biking
If you've considered trading in that 1972 Schwinn Collegiate for something a bit more...modern?, now's a great time to do it. Visit any cycling shop and you'll find lower priced, higher quality bikes, accessories, and apparel, with features that might have been out of reach just a few years ago.
Versatile is the word for this year's cycling footwear. Cannondale's MC900 (men's)/FC900 (women's; both $99) can be worn not only for mountain biking, but for walks or hikes as well. With their leather and mesh uppers, they may look like light hikers, but their soles are
equipped with recessed cleat attachments for clipless pedals. For road biking, the new Shimano R150 ($200) sports a carbon-fiberglass composite outer sole, making it light (1.25 pounds) but stiff enough to put power to the pedal. This high performer is SPD-R and Look cleat compatible. Give kids a bike shoe that's rugged,
skateboard-friendly, and cool enough for school: Vans's suede Disaster ($62), available in sizes 3½ to 6.
|Gear, from top to bottom: Bell Storm, Sugol Jr. Trixie Jersey and Trixie Jr. Bike Shorts,
Vans Disaster, Pearl Izumi Attack Sock, GT Little Timber
The new Specialized Rock Hopper A1 Comp FSR ($1,080) is a dual-suspension mountain bike with a light, durable aluminum frame, Shimano XT and LX components, and a Manitou Magnum front shock, plus a Fox Vanilla Coil shock under the seat to soften off-road rides. Hard-tail fans can opt for the new Kona Roast
($900). To its buff aluminum frame the Roast adds Shimano LX and LX Deore components, and a long-travel front fork.
The Cannondale R400 ($1,085) can double as your road bike at home and your tool-around bike on vacation. Equipped with Shimano components and a lightweight but solid aluminum frame, it will serve well for years of varied use.
Kids can jump on dirt, spin on the streets, and cruise the trails with the new GT Little Timber ($217), a rugged steel-framed seven-speeder. A more straight-ahead trail bike is the Giant Boulder SE ($250), which is fully equipped to handle singletrack or cruiser flats. It has a front suspension fork and a
Mini Me–size Cro-Mo frame.
Helmets now manage to be as stable and breathable as they are protective. Two standouts: Giro's new Mojave ($55), which has a removable sun visor, and the lightweight Specialized Sub Zero ($80), with adjustable internal straps that enhance fit and reduce helmet movement.
Two supercool kids' helmets are Bell's Storm ($30), with fast-forward graphics and a lower-profile fit, and the Mongoose BMX Helmet ($60). You may think its racing-inspired styling and full-face protection are overkill, but your kid most assuredly will not.
This year's cycling apparel mixes breathable wicking fabrics with designs that work for a number of sports, helping you to pack a little lighter. Tight Lycra cycling clothes, be gone: Zoic's new Razzle Jersey ($30), a Mesh-Sensor/K-Wick Microcool fabric top for women, offers high performance to match its good looks. She can pair it with Zoic's Vixen Short ($50), a soft, laundered-twill short with a full Coolknit liner and a Microsuede cycling pad.
If a tight-fitting, Euro-styled bike jersey seems a bit velodramatic, slip on the new Sugoi men's Arcade Tech T ($50), cut from technical fabric suited to all manner of trail sport. Pearl Izumi's Switchback baggy shorts ($69) look and feel like
streetwear, but house a technical cycling pad–equipped liner.
Kids who wear the right clothing will be more comfortable and ride longer. The new Sugoi Jr. Trixie Jersey ($28) joins technical, wicking fabric with cutting-edge kid style. Match the jersey to the Lycra Trixie Jr. Bike Short ($30).
Bring along some crosstraining socks, too. Both the Merino/nylon SmartWool Cycling II Sock ($11) and the Pearl Izumi Attack Sock ($7) work well for most recreational pursuits.
You'll reduce blisters--and fatigue--with the Pearl Izumi Greptile Cycling Glove System ($40; full-fingered glove, $45; handlebar tape, $20). This adhesive-tape-and-glove combo wipes out white knuckles by making it easier to grip your handlebar.
|Gear, from top to bottom: Giro Mojave, Sugol Arcade Tech T, Pearl Izumi Switchback,
Cannondale MC 900, Smartwool Cycling II Sock, Specialized Rock Hopper Comp FSR
Technology has come a long way since those old odometers on your three-speed. Cycle computers like Avocet's versatile Cyclometer 35 ($45) now track speed, distance, and time, plus
give you averages and totals. Large buttons and displays make this an easy-to-use workout logger.
While you're racking up those miles, be sure to bring along plenty of H2O. The updated CamelBak CloudWalker hydration pack ($65) now stays in place better while you're active. It holds 70 ounces of liquids in its removable hydration system, plus 1,200 cubic inches of other packables. Cascade Designs's new Platypus Typhoon pack ($100) provides a three-liter hydration system plus 1,750 cubic inches of gear-carrying capacity--enough room for tools, kids' necessities, and an extra layer or two.
You never know when a charcoal or marshmallow crisis will necessitate a nighttime ride to the camp store. See where you're going with the Nightsun Sunsport 2000 ($120), a single-beam light that mounts to your handlebar or helmet.
And when your bike breaks down or that rented condo needs a few small repairs, save the day with Victorinox's newest Swiss Army SportRatchet Tool ($100). This multitool comes with a ratchet
screwdriver, reversible bits, and two removable wrenches. —Kristin Carpenter
Photography by Clay Ellis and Douglas Merriam