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Thanks to a supple kangaroo-leather upper and this season’s best application of the wrap-around Boa lacing system, this cleat is comfy as a slipper but still stable and responsive. lakecycling.com…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

SCOTT CX TEAM BIKE features a Shimano Ultegra build and ‘cross touches like wide tire clearance and a shaped top tube for easy shouldering. Tread is key, too.

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-svelte, 8.8-ounce Actyum has two interchang-eable pads, one with a mesh protective net that aligns with the front vents to keep bugs from splattering your noggin. rudyprojectusa.com…

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…

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…

Road Here’s a top-shelf road helmet masquerading behind a midlevel cost. The removable mesh interior, one-handed twist-lock adjustment, and scant weight (11.2 ounces) are the types of features normally found on models twice the price. www.rudyprojectusa.com…

With a buckle closure and carbon sole, these have all the features of a top-end cleat—except the staggering price tag. bike.shimano.com…

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…

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…

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,…

CROSS-COUNTRY REVELATION The Mach 4 is the first cross-country offering from MTB-design legend Chris Cocalis’s newly launched Pivot brand. It’s built around the same dw-link platform as the Gear of the Year–winning Ibis but tuned a bit firmer to stay active while eliminating energy-sapping pedal bob. The bike blasted up…

Though built for aggressive trail riding, this bike dished up so much speed, we had to double-check its specs. The aluminum Trailfox definitely uses all 5.5 inches of its travel, but the general consensus was that it often pedaled as well as a short-travel racer. “One of the fastest rides…

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

BEAT THE CLOCK With a one-inch-wide head tube and bladed fork, the full-carbon B2 enters the wind like a dart. A multi-position stem adjusts for the sweet spot between aerodynamic crouch and lower-back comfort. Shaped tubes keep everything hidden behind the front end to minimize drag, and even the rear…

With a thermo-regulating Outlast liner, this futuristic Italian helmet is a Renaissance performer: great in any weather. trialtir-usa.com…

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…

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.

Mountain Scraping the bottom of your bike budget? The Slant blends surprising performance (21 vents and the secure ErgoDial fit) with sleek good looks in a killer value. www.bellbikehelmets.com…

Why It’s CoolFive inches of cush out back and four up front let riders blaze down fire roads yet float above the fray. » The Cake’s steering feels assuredly stable, instilling confidence when the scenery starts to blur. » Stability credit also goes to Fisher’s Genesis Geometry, which uses a…

If you log big mileage, buy this bargain shoe. The thin carbon sole is stiff, but it never put our feet to sleep—even after six hours in the saddle. cannondale.com…

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…

The Perfect Blend The Infinito reminds us what the “comfort-performance” designation is about. Its geometry puts the rider in a more upright, spine-friendly position, but its high-end materials and components are all about speed. And of all the bikes in this category, none blends race-day efficiency and all-day comfort as…

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…

ALL-AROUND PERFORMER After each ride, we had to check the price tag—could a bike this good cost this little? Not only did Mongoose equip this four-inch ride with a plush Fox RP2 rear shock and smooth RockShox Recon Race fork; they also threw in a complete Shimano XT group, a…

Like the Epic, the brand-new, full-carbon Blur XC is scary light—one tester pulled it right off the ground while navigating a short, punchy climb. And while its rear shock doesn't boast the same techy approach the Epic's does, the Blur flat-out rips on fast singletrack. Credit Santa Cruz's proven Virtual…

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

Keep It Simple Live in a flattish city and looking for a stylish, affordable everyday bike? That’s the whole point of this durable steel single-speed, which takes racks and sports a SRAM Torpedo rear hub that easily switches from freewheel to fixed with a screwdriver—no wheel flipping necessary. Tiny gripe:…

This lid ups the ante on air conditioning, squeezing in 29 vents with the help of an exoskeleton that protects your skull with minimum bulk. louisgarneau.com…

Beyond the bling, the Limited is one serious shoe. The stiff carbon-fiber outsole wraps the heel to stabilize the foot, and a complete pair weighs about as much as the magazine in your hands. scottusa.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…

Mountain Benefit from trickle-down technology with the Hex. It has chunky mountain styling, a removable visor, and the same superior fit (courtesy of the Roc Loc 4 system) featured on Giro’s top-end lids. www.giro.com…

This cleat stays cool on the hottest days. It has all the performance features you’d expect—rigid carbon midsole, removable mud cleats—combined with an upper that’s supercooled with swaths of mesh venting. northwave.it…

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…

Utility Multi-Purpose Marvel A water-resistant, breathable, seamless soft-shell upper, rubberized toe box, and an aggressive ride/hike sole made this a favorite multi-condition shoe, and testers loved that its runner-like profile meant it was inconspicuous and comfortable for walking around (quietly) off the bike. 15.4 oz; pearlizumi.com…

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…

BIG-WHEELED HARDTAIL In the age of compression rates and leverage ratios, Bianchi continues to produce refreshingly simple bikes. This aluminum hardtail is tough enough for the roughest trails but doesn’t need the constant tweaking of a full-suspension rig. The 29-inch wheels roll so smoothly, you can forget you don’t have…

Kudos to Diamondback for producing an affordable five-inch trail bike. “One of the better balanced rides of the day,” said one tester. “It corners smoothly, it's a nimble climber, and it descends like a free-ride bike.” Granted, you have to lock out the rear shock to hang with lighter bikes…

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

We expected the Epic to be fast—it's the same full-carbon bike that Swiss Christoph Sauser rode to the 2008 XC world championship—but not this fast. The Shimano XTR components and carbon cranks certainly help, but really it's all about the gray matter. The front and rear shocks feature Specialized's Brain…

A fit system perfectly adjusts the Boss to your head—up, down, and around. And the smart closure on the strap is easy to manage even while you’re bouncing about on the trail. Bummer: Why no visor? uvexsports.com…

Most people’s feet tilt down and out when they dangle. As with all Specialized Body Geometry shoes, the carbon-soled S-Works are designed around this natural cant, to reduce knee and foot strain. specialized.com…

Utility City, Smarter Our favorite commuter helmet, the Section is the lightest in its class and sports eight vents. Too few? If you ever yard-sale in this hard hat, you’ll appreciate its tougher shell and rounded profile—which won’t twist your neck like a more aerodynamically shaped helmet can when…

Mountain Anticipating a trip to Moab in July? The Instinct’s cooling system has gaping channels that funnel air through like a fan. www.specialized.com Bonus: The on-off mountain visor is fast and easy.

The TITLE 9 NO SWEAT STRING BIKINI has lightweight, wicking CoolMax Alta fabric to regulate temperature when the going gets hot. (800-342-4448, www.title9sports.com)…

This no-nonsense shoe is plenty stiff, has an aggressive tread, and sports a synthetic leather upper tough enough for the roughest trails. It performs as well as some cleats twice the price. bike.shimano.com…

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…

Utility For Town or Country Need a tour-ready, highly walkable shoe that delivers stiffness and a grabby tread pattern—and is also pretty styling? Here you go. The tough leather upper took a beating and easily brushed clean, the roomy toe box was comfortable on long rides, and the reflective…

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…

PEDAL-FRIENDLY HEAVYWEIGHT Six-inch all-mountain bikes can be heavy and no fun to pedal, which is why they’re generally reserved for car shuttles and ski lifts. Not so El Guapo. With oversized aluminum tubing, stout links, and through-axle hub, it looks the part of a squishy all-mountain banger. But a Shimano…

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…

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

What Amazon did for books, Leopard is doing for bicycles. By sticking with Web-only distribution, this small Bay Area–based bike manufacturer is offering teched-out, full-carbon race bikes at unheard-of prices. The CL1 is constructed of uniquely ribbed carbon tubing and has radically shaped carbon seat- and chainstays, resulting in…

Keep your cool without losing your teeth. This comfortable full-face helmet is almost as airy as most XC buckets (21 vents) and delivers a superb fit with its highly adjustable retention system. specialized.com…

A great entry-level race shoe for high-volume feet, the MX170 has a heel-mounted Boa lacing system that cinches the shoe around the ankle to prevent heel lift. lakecycling.com…

Road Comfortable Crossover In many ways, the Sterling is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Prolight. There’s a removable (and padded) bug-net lining, a Boa-like knob that dials in the perfect fit with a few clicks, and a visor for mountain biking. All that, and it’s…

If the thought of spending more for a quality bike than a decent used car makes you want to take up jogging, the Dakar will keep you on two wheels. The aluminum frame is stiff and responsive, and can take a lot of abuse. (We crashed ours into both…

Why It’s CoolWith their straight-gauge tubes and bruiser metal forks, bargain-priced aluminum bikes deliver a harsh ride. But Schwinn’s aluminum pipes are butted and shaped to balance stiffness with compliance—the Fastback quietly hummed down ratty pavement. » Check the bump-damping carbon-fiber fork—yeah, on a triple-digit-price bike. » Pedaling this racy…

With help from the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, Specialized has overhauled this shoe with a newly contoured last, orthopedic footbeds, and a foot-hugging closure. “The most comfortable cleat I’ve ever worn,” raved one tester. specialized.com…

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…

Road Race-Ready The first iteration of this remarkably light and stiff shoe had just one Boa dial to adjust the fit. Now it has two. The result? One tester put on a pair out of the box and rode, blister-free, the long way from San Francisco to Las Vegas—over…

BEST FOR LONG HAULS Comfortable without being sluggish. Fast without being unstable. The Peloton Pro, Schwinn’s first full-carbon race frame, is just right. Testers found the frame, which incorporates two different weaves of the company’s house-brand Black Label carbon, the most forgiving (or vertically compliant) of the bikes we tested,…

FAST, NIMBLE TRAIL MACHINE Tomac Bicycles built a cult following in the late 1990s for producing some of the best early dual-suspension bikes, but it quietly folded in 2005. The company has reemerged this year with a line of bicycles that includes the beautifully executed Snyper 140. Using a single-pivot…

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…

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.

Not everyone wants to race, so why are so many bikes constructed with aggressive angles and knee-wrecking gears? Schwinn felt your pain and responded with the Fastback Comp, a roadie with concessions to comfort that hardly sacrifice performance. The proprietary aluminum is rigid enough for effective power transfer, while…

Afraid of screwing up your 'do by wearing a helmet, but don't want to crush your skull in a bicycle crash? Two Swedish industrial design students have the solution to your dilemma: an airbag collar. The Hvvding (English translation: the Chieftain) “springs into action within 0.1 seconds, covering the…

I recently picked up a Masi Speciale Commuter and love it for short rides, but after reading this month's issue, I've decided that I will try to give up my car for a month. This means a commute of around 30 miles. Since I'm going to be going to work and to campus, I'd like something that looks casual. Any suggestions? Charles Arlington, TX

By Stephen Regenold An available trailer hitch and two minutes of installation time is all you need to set up a bomber behind-the-car bike-toting system with the Kuat Alpha or the Thule 971xt rack. These similarly-designed systems affix to either the common…

By Stephen Regenold The Forerunner series of athletic-minded watches from Garmin Ltd. have gained a devotion with some athletes and exercisers that may only be described as cultish. But it is with good reason: Forerunner watches are top-shelf performers and they offer functions…

By Stephen Regenold The Forerunner series of athletic-minded watches from Garmin Ltd. have gained a devotion with some athletes and exercisers that may only be described as cultish. But it is with good reason: Forerunner watches are top-shelf performers and they offer functions…

I just dropped a bunch of bucks outfitting a used road bike I traded my mountain bike for. Rack, fenders, computer, lights, new helmet, bags. Whew! Now I need to know what to wear for my 18-mile commute in Seattle. I have a light rain jacket and padded bike shorts to get me started, but I want to buy a jacket, bike shorts, underwear (yikes, they’re $20 a pop), some kind of wool knickers for pants, and a couple of undershirts. Is that the right stuff? Lukas Seattle, WA