The biggest beneficiaries of the great evolution in bike tech? Lower-cost rides.

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(Cannondale)

Cannondale CAAD8 105 5 

Best For: Aspiring Racers 

Anyone who thinks aluminum is stiff and heavy hasn’t ridden the CAAD8. Cannondale used lightweight tubing to build a bike that’s nearly identical to its older brother, the CAAD12, but for $270 less and at a mere two-pound weight penalty. In a blind test, most people wouldn’t notice a performance difference between the Shimano 105 drivetrain included here and top-shelf Dura Ace, and though the wheels are mediocre, they’re easy to upgrade. On the road, the CAAD8 feels snappy and quick—it’s surprisingly peppy in sprints and on climbs—but still quite smooth, carving through turns like a criterium bike. 

Price $1,410

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©Earl Harper (Raleigh)

Raleigh Roker Sport 

Best For: Adventurers

The Roker Sport is the Subaru Crosstrek of the road-bike world. With a design borrowed from Raleigh’s successful cyclocross rigs, this is a full-carbon roadie that’s stable, comfortable, and built with plenty of tire clearance. The 40-millimeter Clement X’Plor rubber isn’t as fast as a skinny tire, but the ability to roll from pavement to dirt without missing a pedal stroke makes up for the speed dip. Testers raved about how well the versatile steed powered along on flats and rollers, and while the TRP discs don’t have as much stopping power as their hydraulic counterparts, they’re a big improvement over rim brakes. 

Price $2,500

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bicycle
(Niner)

Niner EMD 9 

Best For: Dirt Converts 

This hardtail 29er costs as little as a department-store clunker but offers the performance and trail cred of one of the most sophisticated boutique brands around. What you get for less than two grand: a well-made aluminum frame, a tapered headtube, clean cable routing, hydraulic disc brakes, and a tubeless-ready Niner wheelset. Living up to its name (as in Eat My Dust), the EMD was happiest on flats and climbs, and the 100-millimeter RockShox Recon Silver fork made even rocky descents easier than expected. Pro tip: scrap the skinny WTB Nine Line tires for something in the 2.4-inch range to boost comfort dramatically. 

Price $1,500

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©Earl Harper (Diamondback)

Diamondback Release 1 

Best For: Bigger-Hit Riding 

Diamondback designed the Release from the ground up, with modern geometry, 130 millimeters of travel in back, and 27.5-inch wheels. The suspension system is modeled on Santa Cruz’s respected VPP platform (the patent expired late last year), meaning it offers similar pedaling efficiency and a buttery-smooth feel for a fraction of the cost. It was perky on seriously techy terrain, stable at speed, and really fun to ride. The parts are a reasonable mix of SRAM gear, a nice 150-millimeter RockShox fork, and house-brand wheels hung with brawny Schwalbe tires. It all works great together, although it’s on the heavy side. 

Price $2,800

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Fitness

The Best Road Bikes of 2016

We’re witnessing a sea change in what road bikes look like and how they perform. Manufacturers are realizing that consumers don’t need the lightest, most aggressive designs used by professional riders, and they’re turning out machines that are more versatile and user-friendly. While the racing world has resisted disc brakes, for instance, bike companies are keen on their advantages and are pushing to make them standard. Modern geometries lean toward stability, and smarter tube shapes continue to boost comfort. Tires and rims are getting wider, improving traction and ride quality. And as the gravel market grows—with bikes like our Gear

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Fitness

The Bike Hunting Essentials of 2016

(Sitka) Sitka Mountain Pants  Made from stretch polyester with a DWR treatment, these pants shrug off rain and brush. The cargo pockets swallow essentials, and the removable foam knee pads make crouching almost comfortable.  Price $189 Buy Now (Maven) Maven B.2 Binoculars  With its direct-to-consumer strategy, Maven sells exceptional optics at a fraction of the price of its competitors. Choose from three magnifications and customize the colors of lens rings and other pieces.  Price $1,000 Buy Now  (Icebreaker) Icebreaker Tech Lite Long Sleeve Crewe Real Tree Shirt  This

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Fitness

The Best Bike Apparel of 2016

A cadre of upstart brands is shaking up cycling clothing. Thank God.  (DannyShane) DannyShane Red Tornado Plaid  Cut from 50 percent bamboo-blend fabric, this dapper soft top has a network of airy channels that spirited away moisture and kept us cool in the Arizona heat. Price $139 Buy Now (Sombrio) Sombrio Grappler  We broke out the Grappler on big days in the mountains when we’d be encountering variable temperatures. The performance mesh-poly fabric kept us cool in the foothills, while the sleeves provided warmth when the storms rolled in up high.  Price $70

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Fitness

The Best Mountain Bikes of 2016

Plus-size is fast becoming the new normal in mountain bikes. One year ago, you had only a few niche options in this category, loosely defined as including anything with 2.8-to-3-inch tires. At this year’s test we evaluated eight of the rigs, including our Gear of the Year winner, and another dozen are coming to market this season. These mid-fat machines add grip and confidence without the heft of a full fat bike, making them ideal for loose, sandy trails and super ­capable on bigger-hit riding. While the development is still in its infancy, with manufacturers debating rim widths and rubber

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Fitness

The Best Bike Accessories of 2016

Build your kit with the right stuff for road and trail. DAILY ROAD (Specialized) Specialized Airnet MIPS Helmet  The Airnet’s sleek, retro looks pay homage to old-school racing lids, but the MIPS technology, designed to reduce rotational force in a crash, is all new. It’s the only helmet you need.  Price $170 Buy Now (Niterider) NiteRider Sentinel 40 Taillight  Do yourself a favor and ride with a taillight. Always. The tough, USB-chargeable Sentinel 40 projects a thin beam on either side of your bike, creating a visible safety lane that moves with you.  Price $50 Buy

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Fitness

The Best Women’s Bikes of 2016

We tested 25 women’s bikes in the Arizona desert. These were our four favorites. (Felt) Felt ZW2  Best For: Blasting on a Budget  The first thing we noticed about the ZW2? The murdered-out matte paint job and red highlights. This carbon roadie is as fast as it looks, with fairly aggressive geometry and stiff Fulcrum Racing 5 LG wheels that flew along smooth pavement and leaped up steep grades. The Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting is top-notch, making the ZW2 a good value at under five grand. “Gorgeous, poised, stable, with e-shifting? At this price?” said

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Fitness

The Best Women's Bike Accessories of 2016

We combed through hordes of gear to put together the best kit for road and mountain biking. (Giro) Giro Chrono Pro Shorts  A good chamois could be the single most important item in your gear closet. This is about the plushest we’ve found, with a wide waist, leg bands that stay in place, and silky Lycra.    Price $150 Buy Now (Specialized) Specialized S-Works Evade Helmet  The secret to speed isn’t shedding weight—it’s getting aero. The Evade will save you 46 seconds over 24 miles compared with a standard helmet, says Specialized.

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Fitness

The Bike Commute Essentials of 2016

You can do better than jeans and a T-shirt. (Ibex) Ibex Shralp Jersey Ibex calls this a jersey, and while it does have some nice tech details—including odor- and moisture-resistant wool fabric, a drop hem, and reflective hits on the back—the wrinkle-free, plaid button-up hangs just as well at the office as it does in the saddle.   Price $150 Buy Now (Du:er) Du:er Slim Utility Rinse Jeans  These trim-fit jeans are excellent on the bike, thanks to the proprietary, slightly stretchy, bomber denim and hidden gusseted crotch. We found ourselves wearing

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