8 MTB and Road Essentials

The Top 8 Mountain and Road Accessories of 2012 | Shimano SH-M315

The devil is in the details of the Shimano SH-M315’s: the synthetic uppers felt as supple as suede house shoes, the directional metal fibers in the heels really locked our feet in, and the vented plastic bumper kept our dogs cool but amazingly well sheltered from trail detritus.

Pearl Izumi Launch Kicker

Pearl Izumi’s Launch Kicker shorts are loaded with trail-savvy technology (removable chamois, adjustable button-and-loop waistband), but it’s so well hidden beneath the soft and stretchy herringbone fabric that nobody at the pub will know you came straight from the trailhead.

S3 MT

Specialized’s S3 MT has become our go-to trail helmet because of what it’s missing: weight and bulk. Though it was so light you could barely feel it, the micro-dial retention system still fit even the most oddball head shapes.

Easton EA70 XCT

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.

Castelli BodyPaint 2.0

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.

Giro Apeckx

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.

Mavic Plasma SLR

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.

Stan's Alpha Pro

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.

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