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Mountain Happy Trails The comfiest mountain-bike helmet in the test? You’re looking at it. The thumbwheel up top lets you snug a headband around your noggin via a cable for a pressure-point-free fit that every tester raved about. Bonus: enough vents for the hottest days. 9.8 oz;…

By bolting a stiff carbon insert to a nylon frame, the microfiber-and-mesh SRS’s provide just enough toe flex to keep the blood flowing, without sacrificing efficient energy transfer. sidiusa.com…

With a more relaxed geometry and longer travel (4 inches vs. 3.5), Giant's all-new Anthem X line is a slightly more trail-tuned version of its race-specific Anthem line. Theoretically, those changes should make it slower, and maybe they do, but we couldn't tell. “Feels like a full-on race bike,” said…

CHALLENGE‘s handmade and all-conditions GRIFO OPEN TUBULAR TIRES offer tubular-like suppleness but mount like a clincher.

STEALTH RACERScott checks in with one of the lightest competition frames on the planet—a blend of custom tubes and carbon welding that weighs a feathery one pound 15 ounces. For a frame this light, it’s surprisingly solid. When it was decked with Campagnolo’s midrange Centaur group, our test bike came…

Though the mechanical buckle on Mavic’s top racing shoe resists big fingers and super-tight ratcheting—we loved the secure fit of the carbon heel cup and the nearly seamless comfort of the bonded upper. mavic.com…

Versatile and Burly We gave GT top honors in our 2005 Buyer’s Guide, and the company’s underrated proprietary “Independent Drivetrain” suspension continues to impress. The design has been refined over the years; it’s lighter and more efficient. But the main benefit—isolating all suspension movement from pedaling forces—remains, as evidenced by…

1. Twenty-one years after introducing the world’s first all-carbon production frame, Kestrel continues to put a premium on stiffness and aerodynamics. But unlike true aero bikes, the RT700 loves to climb and descend; plus it’s comfy enough for long-haul speed. And, damn, doesn’t it look good on the rack?…

We double-checked the weight of every bike—and a lot of the other gear—on these pages with this user-friendly scale. Hang it from a work stand or roof beam, and see if those new wheels are as light as the manufacturer claims. (They probably aren’t.) feedbacksports.com…

We’ve entered the golden age of bicycle components. Though carbon-fiber frame designs are still improving, the advances now come in increments, rather than the leaps and bounds of recent years. (For road frames, there are now viable carbon-and-aluminum bikes and even full-carbon options in the one-to-two-grand range.) But when…

A forgiving fit, four pockets, and an internal headphone port with cable guides make the Potenza perfect for long solo training rides. And the wicking fabric kept us impressively comfy during a humid 70-miler in Austin, Texas. hincapie.com…

The CoilAir had the longest travel—7.4 inches—of any bike we tested this year, except when it didn't. Chain tension keeps the suspension at a pedal-friendly six inches for smooth flats and long climbs. On descents, technical sections, or big drops, a radical suspension design called Magic Link uses a secondary…

The nylon soles on SIDI‘s new SPIDER SRS SHOES are firm enough for pedaling but just forgiving enough for muddy sprints.

You could pay more than twice as much for a bike and not have this much fun. With a one-piece carbon frame, competition-worthy components, and intuitive handling, this Gear of the Year winner is an entry-level racer that moves “entry level” into the same neighborhood as “elite.” 1. For…

To create our new favorite road shoe, Sidi took the slipperlike synthetic upper, full-carbon sole, and adjustable heel retention of its top-of-the-line (and rather narrow) Ergo 2, then reassembled it all for those of us with wider feet. sidiusa.com…

A Classic Reinvented In an effort to lower the price of admission, Ellsworth offers up the Glimpse, its first-ever non- commuter bike not entirely made in the USA. The aluminum tubes are still produced here, but the shaping, welding, and assembly happen in Taiwan. (You probably wouldn’t have known had…

A SHOT OF ESPRESSO This twitchy Italian racer just misses out on being the lightest bike here, but the weight is well spent. Bianchi added extra material along the drivetrain of this full-carbon frame to produce an all-arounder that excels under the heavy loads of climbs and sprints. Handling is…

Last year, consumers were buying $9,000 bikes and bad mortgages like there was no tomorrow. Then tomorrow showed up. The spendy bikes are still out there, and still worth it for racers who have the cash. But in a time of great frugality, it's nice to know you can get…

Carbon Comfort Carbon-fiber bikes in this price range are no longer an anomaly. To keep costs down, they’re constructed with a slightly heavier weave. The result is usually a significantly smoother road feel than aluminum-framed bikes have, though generally not quite as forgiving as the finest carbon cloth. The ultrastiff…

Thanks to hydrophilic rubber pads and swappable lenses, the Dea can handle the sweat and variable light conditions of an aggressive mountain-bike session. But the fashionisto style is all about riding a cruiser to Sunday-afternoon beers. tifosioptics.com…

The killer-whale look is definitely polarizing, but the supportive fit and smartly articulated chamois of these handmade bibs felt great even after six hours in the saddle. Bonus: SPF 50 sun-protection rating, so your legs won’t burn under that white fabric. pearlizumi.com…

Good for Backcountry We’re not too nuts about the term “all-purpose” either, but we hope you understand our point: Whatever you do, from resort skiing to snowshoeing, we’ve got the perfect jacket for you. Some, like the North Face Free Thinker II, are bedecked with nearly a…

SHIMANO‘s redesigned XTR PD-M980 RACE PEDAL is lighter than its predecessor yet has three times the platform area.

SPORTS SEDANA champion’s philosophy underscores each LeMond rolling out of the Wisconsin plant: Comfort trumps efficiency. That’s how Greg LeMond won three Tours de France—atop buttery steel frames like this one. And the Buenos Aires offers something extra: carbon fiber. By mating carbon tubes in the top half of…

The Body Geometry fit counters the natural cant of most people’s feet to correct knee-alignment issues (read: less pain), while Specialized’s stiffest carbon weave delivers a race-ready sole. specialized.com…

Cross-Country Comfort Though this aluminum cross-country racer doesn’t boast the exotic carbon fiber and secret build techniques of the bikes above it in the Spark line, it does have the same semirelaxed geometry and efficient 4.3-inch-travel design that have made those bikes popular endurance racers. “I know it’s a race…

HEAD FOR THE HILLS In 2007, the mountainous Giro d’Italia and the best-climber’s jersey at the Tour de France were both won on Cannondales. It is with that climbing pedigree in mind that the company launches its new SuperSix. This is the same full-carbon frame Cannondale’s top pros are on…

One of the most versatile bikes we tested, the 928 Carbon is comfortable enough for mountain centuries and quick enough for hard efforts on twisty courses. With its race-inspired geometry and compact gearing, the Mono-Q earned high marks as an efficient climber, though testers would have liked to see wider…

Flexible Flier With race models like the Orca and Opal, this small Basque company has a well-deserved reputation as a maker of elite-level bikes. In an effort to get similar performance at a more attractive price for everyday riders, Orbea simply laid less-expensive carbon fiber into the same molds it…

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.

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