Twenty larger-than-normal vent holes on the Cannondale Ryker helmet kept riders from heating up, so sweat never dripped into our eyes. And a lightweight alloy exoskeleton (which doesn’t add much to the helmet’s nine ounces) reinforces the bridge areas for added ventilation. Our favorite part? The Ryker’s low-profile styling made it easy to wear on the trail or the road—and at a price we can’t argue with.
Pearl Izumi Select Gel
As any great bike mitt should, Pearl Izumi’s Select Gel gloves have no-slip synthetic-leather palms with low-profile inserts that absorb road shock so your wrists don’t. But unlike other padded gloves, they aren’t lumpy. The meshy back was cool on long rides, and testers reported great fit, thanks to the anatomical sewing and ergonomic shaping of the pads.
Sugoi Arm Coolers
Most arm covers are designed for warmth. Sugoi’s UPF 50 arm coolers are just the opposite. The wicking polyester fabric has a benign chemical called xylitol (also found in some chewing gum) that reacts to sweat and generates a cool feeling where it meets your skin, which was refreshing on steamy hill climbs.
Gore Phantom Summer Lady
Gore’s buttery-soft nylon-poly-spandex Phantom Summer Lady singlet is so breathable, it never got that clammy plastic feeling. The jersey’s trim cut wasn’t overly tight—which made it breezy—and reflective piping kept riders visible at dusk. Our main gripe: chain-grease tattoos were hard to get out of the tissuey fabric.
Lululemon Bib Shorts
Specialized teamed up with Lululemon to create the first-ever road-cycling apparel from the quirky and controversial yoga- and activewear company. The collab’s cute bib shorts have leg bands that never pinched, a mesh upper that breathed well under a jersey, and rear patterning that forms Lulu’s signature logo. A matching jersey is available, too.
Helly Hansen Pace Pulse
Weightwise, there’s nearly nothing to Helly Hansen’s mostly polyester Pace Pulse jacket. Featurewise, the four-ounce wisp is fully loaded: it’s wind resistant, held our ID and keys in a rear zip pocket, and cleared sweat whether or not we were wearing a pack. Credit strategically placed panels of poly-propylene on the back and arms kept us sweat-free.
Unlike most performance shades, you might actually wear Native’s fun-colored Zodiac sunglasses shades out on the town. The frames hold interchangeable polycarbonate lenses (one additional lens included) and are narrow enough for small faces. Grippy elastic on the temples won’t get tangled in your hair, and the rubbery nosepieces don’t slip or pinch.
After testing a dozen pairs of cycling kicks, we had to go with Giro’s Manta mountain-bike shoes. Their nylon soles are nearly as stiff as carbon at a fraction of the price. Plus, thanks to two Velcro straps and one ratcheting buckle that you can really crank down, no tester found them too wide or narrow.