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There are countless watches, bracelets, headbands, and foot pods on the market promising to record every little thing you do. But can any of it make you a better athlete? The author wades through the muck and the mire to data-mine his best self.

The new wearable will blow fitness tech wide open by not focusing on it

Beginners, we have a secret for you. You don't need high-end gear or a fancy training plan to get better at skiing, running, or climbing. All you have to do is embrace the embarrassment and the pain—and don't forget to laugh. Trust us: It'll be good for your brain.

In an Outside Online exclusive, the company reveals new technology that could be a "reset button" for gear-makers everywhere

A Canadian company wants you to believe that their nutrient-fortified, low-booze brew makes an awesome post-workout beverage. Should you buy in?

Arguably the most anticipated bike of 2009 (it was kept behind glass at bike industry trade shows last fall), the triathlon/time-trial-specific P4 hosts several radical advancements. To hide the rear brake from the wind, engineers tucked it inside the frame, behind a removable panel. They also designed a wing-shaped bottle…

Testers loved the tagless, adjustable waistband and removable chamois. And because most dirt jerseys are too baggy to secure an iPod, the MP3 pocket and headphone port make sense on these shorts. zoic.com…

Good for Backcountry No bell, whistle, or expense was spared in making this uninsulated jacket: Two-way pit zips. Padded cell-phone compartment. Seven pockets. Reinforced shoulders. Removable powder skirt with belt loops. A Recco avalanche reflector. The list goes on, and you might ask yourself: Do I really…

Up top, the goal is moderate warmth in a tight-fitting piece that won’t snag, something like GORE BIKE WEAR‘s XENON THERMO JERSEY.

DISCOUNT TICKETThink of the Competition as a two-wheeled iMac: Pros may want more, but if you’re looking for a worry-free performance machine, clip on in. Raleigh is coming on strong for ’05 by combining cutting-edge frames with styling that harks back to the brand’s late-seventies/early-eighties heyday. Carbon tubing, aluminum lugs,…

Heat-moldable sections in the upper give the M230 a custom-fit feel, while the carbon-reinforced nylon soles nail the balance between efficient pedaling stiffness and hike-a-bike walkability. shimano.com…

Up You Go “Rolled up the hills almost on its own,” wrote one tester. While that’s obviously an exaggeration, everyone agreed that the hardtailed, big-wheeled Stumpy was one of the most efficient climbers this year. But even more impressive was how it handled on the way down. Whereas most hardtails…

CHEAP THRILLS With so many astronomically expensive bikes on the market, it’s easy to get the impression that entry-level bikes perform too poorly to warrant consideration. The Xenith Comp proves that’s not the case. The full-carbon frame offers about as stiff a platform as you’ll find at this price, and…

It's nice to see carbon-frame bikes in this price range. But although the cost is a bit de-tuned, the performance certainly isn't. This is the same stiff frame used in Raleigh's top race bikes, and our testers found it surprisingly zippy on the flats and punchy on the climbs. And…

Versatile Starter If you’re looking for an affordable bike that can handle commutes and get you going on your first fitness or group rides, the Grand Sport is worth a look. If, like our testers, you’re already accustomed to riding light and stiff (and much pricier) bikes, you won’t be…

Cannondale is now manipulating carbon fiber for high-end race bikes as well as anyone, but the company hasn't completely abandoned its deep aluminum heritage. The Six 5 weds a carbon rear end and fork, which minimize painful road vibrations, to a stiff aluminum front triangle for pedaling efficiency. The frame…

We found it nearly impossible not to get a wedgie when walking in Assos’s top-of-the-line long-distance/training bibs. But on the bike, the anatomical chamois was as comfortable as any we’ve ridden, and the mesh straps seemed to disappear. assos.com…

Good for Backcountry The trim-fitting Lobuche is every bit as breathable and snow- and rainproof as any hard shell we’ve ever tested. But it’s got something else up its sleeves. Because glues and seams can interfere with breathability, Mammut uses electrical current to bond the Lobuche’s…

When things get mucky, throw on PEARL IZUMI‘s microfleece-backed neoprene BARRIER SHOE COVERS.

SPECIALIZATIONA cousin to the bike that won a Gear of the Year award in ’03, the Epic is the best full-suspension climber on the market. True, this bike’s design isn’t quite as buttery as some others’, and its twitchy steering has scared off more than a few riders. But the…

Somehow, Bontrager managed to squeeze all the features of a high-end shoe—heat-moldable insoles, carbon-reinforced soles, removable toe spikes—into this extremely well-priced model. Fits narrow and medium-width feet best. bontrager.com…

Downhill Dream Trek’s redesigned aluminum Remedy pedals surprisingly well for an all-mountain, 5.9-inch-travel bike—especially with the Fox Float Rp2 rear shock in its firm Pro Pedal setting. And while it’s a decent climber, the point here is rolling past big obstacles on the climb and then flying over them on…

FORMULA ONE ON TWO WHEELS The purest racer in our lineup, the updated Tarmac shaves ten grams off its predecessor while delivering better drive-train efficiency. The tapered head tube widens at the bottom for increased stiffness. This also allowed designers to move the bearings up so that steering forces are…

The fully-custom, carbon-and-titanium XS can save your ass, literally. One tester spent 19 hours on it—in a single weekend—and was still able to walk afterwards. Indy Fab, an employee-owned boutique builder in Somerville, Massachusetts, is known for its artistry (check the laser-cut lugs) and regularly pulls down awards at the…

Lively All-Rounder This Massachusetts-based crafter of high-end carbon-fiber frames is renowned for its custom-fit geometry and expertise at mixing comfort, stiffness, and light weight in a single frame. Parlee’s now making more stock-size frames like the Z5—and so far our testers are big fans. “Intensely responsive,” said one. “But in…

GT designed its new i-DXC around the latest version of the company’s superefficient i-Drive suspension setup, so it rides as comfortably as a cross-country bike—without sacrificing race-day speed. Whatever your singletrack agenda, this Gear of the Year winner is equally equipped to play in the backcountry or jump into the…

Visible channels woven into the chest and back are designed to wick sweat (check) and, in cooler temperatures, create an insulating air layer (harder to tell). We loved the close fit, but the cut is oddly long in the torso. x-bionic.com…

Good for Backcountry The Amalgam isn’t quite as breathable as the Lobuche or as tricked out as the Free Thinker II, but it’s better priced and more packable. One thing it doesn’t compromise on, however, is weather protection. When a wet spring snowstorm near Winter Park, Colorado,…

Because the races are so short, warm up beforehand on a LEMOND FITNESS REVOLUTION BIKE TRAINER. It works with the rear wheel removed, so there’s no risk of shredding your off-road tread on a steel roller.

SWITCH-HITTEROne of the best longer-travel climbing bikes I’ve ridden, Cannondale’s new Prophet is stiffer, lighter, and simpler than the company’s popular JeKyll. With five and a half inches of suspension at each end, this one’s perfect for all-mountain hammering. That said, the Prophet is happiest on technical trails, where its…

While not as stiff as a race shoe, the Springwater is an impressive blend of comfort and performance. A full-length TPU plate provides the power transfer, and the lugged rubber outsole makes for sure footing even on the sketchiest scree. keenfootwear.com…

Mountain Moto Style The Cyphon was a surprise hit. Testers initially thought this hard-shelled hybrid would be heavy and not very ventilated, but it’s lighter and cooler than it looks. Riders in hot climates might want a helmet with more vents, but for everyone else, it’s airy enough.

Heat the race-worthy, carbon-soled R220 in an oven at an authorized shop and a special vacuum will mold the shoe to your foot for a stable, slipper-like fit. bike.shimano.com…

We have to break out the superlatives for this out-of-the-box racer. It's the lightest and stiffest frame that Giant has ever produced—the same one (albeit without the integrated seat mast) that was ridden to more pro wins last year than any other bike. Granted, the SL 2 is hung with…

Climb Any Mountain The only difference between this frame and the one Cannondale’s pros are racing in Europe is the carbon fiber. The SuperSix 3, built up with Shimano Ultegra components, uses a less expensive weave, but the molds are the same. Given that, we were expecting it to handle…

ITALIAN FLAIR FOR THE MASSES Before carbon took over cycling, aluminum was the racer’s material of choice. And before Trek took over the Tour de France, Pinarello owned that event. While the Italians’ top offerings can cost more than college, the aluminum FP2—which comes with a vibration-damping carbon fork and…

The super-breathable Tattoo comes with 3/4-length sleeves for (minimal) extra protection, a loose fit that can accommodate arm and torso pads, and a roomy zippered rear pocket. louisgarneau.com…

Good for Backcountry There are lots of versatile soft shells in this price range, but none as smartly constructed as the Baltoro Alpine. The stowable hood was the best we tested: A three-point adjustment secures over hat or helmet, while the moldable wire-stiffened brim can be tucked…

SMART SPEEDThe Diamondback’s straightforwardness is what makes it a standout. This stable, confidence-nurturing cross-country racer holds its line with minimal effort on climbs and descents, and pedals much lighter than its 25 pounds might suggest. A full Shimano XT parts set, including hydraulic disc brakes, makes the SL a…

Not only is the Pro Elite the most stable portable stand we’ve ever tested, it’s also the easiest to use. The smart spring-loaded head allows for one-handed clamping and releases with the push of a button. feedbacksports.com…

Utility Single Player If you’re just looking for one generalist and well-priced helmet, the Align’s your lid. It’s not as light, ventilated, or loaded with cool little features as helmets three or more times the price, but it’s easy to adjust, comes with a removable visor, and fit every…

Suffer from hot feet? Then the superior ventilation of the P.R.O. may be just what you’re looking for. And when the pace quickens, the anti-slip heel and carbon sole get the power to the pedals. pearlizumi.com…

From a world championship–winning race bike to a revolutionary all-mountain bomber, dozens of bikes took our abuse for months on trails all over the Southwest. Our verdict: Suspension technology is doing things we couldn't have imagined five years ago, and carbon fiber is changing our expectations of what bikes should…

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