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I can't find a good mountain-biking seat that doesn't make me feel like I was violated after a long ride. One friend suggested stuffing my shorts with Vaseline. I ride a fair ount, and it's always pretty bad after a long one, but even a moderate 20-miler leaves me walking like I have a pole in the pipe for a day or two. What gives? What can I do? Jayson Los Angeles, CA

When a company like Specialized dreams up a new ride, design teams are deployed, test frames are destroyed, and the stakes are huge. With the 2009 Epic, the goal was suitably grandiose: to create the fastest, most responsive mountain bike around—and earn a world championship to prove it.

My son is cycling the Lower 48 starting on January 1, and I would like some way to keep up with him. Is there a GPS unit that can accomplish this? Karen Atlanta, Georgia

Like nearly everything Crank Brothers makes, the new Cobalt XC mountain-biking wheels are as beautiful as they are high-performance. You’ll want to wash off the mud before you even hit the finish line ($1,000; crankbrothers.com).

The Bell Volt, featuring a removable visor, will keep you up to speed on-road or off-. Proof: Carlos Sastre won this year’s Tour de France wearing one ($175; bellbikehelmets.com).

The narrower nose and arrowhead shape of Selle San Marco‘s Mantra saddle were designed to minimize chafing ($260; sellesanmarco.com).   Sella San Marco Mantra Bike Seat…

My nine-year-old son informed me that my helmet fits him. I wear an adult medium helmet. Do I really have to go with one that’s youth specific? Dave Sierra Vista, Arizona

You answered a question in 2004 about the best gear for cycling in freezing temps. What's changed since then? John Alexandria, Virginia

I'm looking for a backpack for commuting (note: I’m not interested in panniers). The ideal pack would have a ventilated back and expandable volume—some days it's just for work clothes, but some days I’ll throw in a book or my computer. Internal pockets would be good, and water resistance is a plus. I'd also like my Eagle Creek clothes organizer to fit inside. Is this too much to ask for? Dave Sierra Vista, Arizona

Go faster. Play smarter

My wife and I are moving to the U.K. at the end of the year and would like to tour around Wales and Scotland by bike. Should we buy our bikes here and ship them, or buy over there? Thanks, and I love your column. Travis Portland, Oregon

I had to give up my truck, so now I’m looking for a bike rack for my car (for three bikes). I very short, so a roof rack probably won’t work. Do you recommend a hitch rack? Janice House Springs, Missouri

We are planning to buy a tandem bike, but we’re concerned about how to transport this big, long bike on the back of our small fifth wheel. We don’t have a hitch receiver on the back of the RV. Is it possible to add one on? Any other ideas? Jean Cpbellsport, Wisconsin

Our correspondent tests out one of the wackiest fitness hybrids yet: a full-body-throttling rower on wheels

This year’s trail bikes are lighter and more forgiving than ever. We tested the best.

You have written quite a bit about road bikes that range from $2,000 to $4,000. What about entry-level bikes? REI’s Novara brand has bikes for $799. Chris Seattle, Washington

Video

Win a $6,000 Custom Made Frame Set!

Speed doesn't have to hurt. These "comfort performance" bikes go easy on your back–but not on the competition.

I am considering a serious cycling trip across Europe, and I’m set on getting a road bike for it. But I’m having an equipment quandary. I won’t need much, but how do I carry things like a sleeping bag? I don’t want to carry a pack on my back. What do you suggest?

I'm going to do a bicycle tour around Lake Michigan next summer, and I'm thinking about getting a GPS for the bike. Got any recommendations for me? Ken Vernon Hills, Illinois

Does going sockless in cycling shoes cause them to wear more quickly? I got this bit of information from a fellow rider on a recent century, but it sounds a bit dubious. Bob Belmont, Massachusetts

Can you recommend a clipless pedal system for a recreational road biker (and faithful Gear Guy fan) who has an irrational fear of falling? And any suggestions for accompanying shoes? Paul Baltimore, Maryland

I’m looking for a road bike with good speed to handle my 10- to 40-mile daily commute. I'll need it to hold up well in Seattle winter and rain. I've heard the Schwinn Super Sport DBX or the Kona Sutra would be good choices. Any advice? Chris Seattle, Washington

Boutique bike manufacturer Seven Cycles can build you a custom-fit, precision-crafted, $9,500 machine that looks like a MoMA sculpture and rides like a Maserati. Are you worthy?

WORKBENCH Fix a Flat A man doesn’t like to admit he’s never changed a bike tire. But there’s shame, and then there’s hiking ten miles when you could be riding. Let us help you avoid both indignities. Always carry…

I’m looking for a bike that doesn’t strain my neck and shoulders, and I think a hybrid might be the answer. At my local bike shop, I checked out a Trek 7500. Is this a good option, or are there better choices out there? Talia Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania

I have the hardest time regulating my temperature when mountain biking in the rain. What should I wear? Do I even bother with a rain jacket? Michael Richmond, Virginia

I need a new bottom bracket for my old Titanium fre GT mountain bike. But, the old one is stuck so badly that the bike shop couldn't get it out and gave up. What can I do?

In mountain biking as in life, the best paths will surprise you. Be prepared with these versatile machines.

I bike some 30 miles a week, mostly on the road, and I’m tired of the thick tires and heaviness of my mountain bike. But I’m not ready for a full-on road bike with downward handlebars. Can you point me to something in between that’s affordable and will fit my five-foot-tall fre? Cindy Santa Rosa, California

Introducing the sleekest earth-friendly transportation since George Clooney dropped a hybrid engine in his Jaguar. ELLSWORTH’s THE RIDE is the first bike to incorporate the revolutionary NuVinci hub, which uses a series of tilting spheres to offer a seamless progression of pedaling options from easiest to hardest. Imagine having your…

I'm looking for a full-suspension mountain bike that’s under $2,000. The ideal bike would also handle a little downhill action as well. What's the best bike for me in this price range? Dan Georgetown, Texas

From low prices to high comfort, the best new road bikes share one basic feature: fun

I'm 51 years old and want to do long-distance rides down the Australia coastline. I can't decide between a cross or road bike (I've always had a mountain bike). What would be best for me? Becky Wollongong, NSW, Australia

A legendary bike builder unretires to deliver the slickest new all-mountain ride on the planet

Call them your dancing shoes. PEARL IZUMI‘s new silver OCTANE road shoes come with a patented titanium-and-carbon-fiber plate and a mini-reel so you can snug them up and go. At 10.5 ounces each, they’re lighter than a good carbo load but stiff enough for any hammerhead. $400;…

From sleek and sexy road machines to mountain-taming single-speeds, the big news about this year's best bikes is trickle-down technology that makes cutting-edge performance accessible for every rider and any budget

Clothing / Apparel / Helmet

Don't fix your dream ride with duct tape and twist ties. Keep it running smoothly with the ultimate home bike garage.

I'm the type of mountain biker who enjoys venturing off the beaten path; I often have to carry my bike over hills and valleys and I like to stop and explore my surroundings on foot. I'm searching for the perfect pair of clipless mountain-bike shoes that double as a durable hiker. Does such a hybrid exist? Kaiser Falls, Idaho

While carbon fiber and titanium are today’s much-hyped materials of choice for everything from sunglasses to F1 race cars, bamboo is emerging as nature’s own sustainable performance material. The supergrass is nearly as strong as steel and can be woven as soft as silk for one-twentieth the cost. It also…

Is there a bicycle trailer out there that can handle a 75-pound golden retriever? I want to ride 12 miles to our nearby off-leash dog park, run and swim her down there for a while, and then ride home. Greg Littleton, Colorado

What type of footwear do you recommend for winter mountain biking in northern Wisconsin? I don't have toe clips on my bike, just straps. Right now I'm using uninsulated Gore-Tex hikers with toe warmers, but I think I need a little more protection as even my water bottle is freezing up! Loralyn Phelps, Wisconsin

I've recently gotten into road cycling and I've been eyeing a pair of clipless pedals. I noticed that there are several different systems out there and was wondering if you could give some advice on the advantages of each. Ben Bethesda, Maryland

Presenting our just-discovered Periodic Table of Outside Elements, a breakthrough in mapping the scientific building blocks of big, bad fun. We've alchemized gold, steel, titanium, wood, leather, wool, silicon, plastic, and carbon fiber into an array of 56 high-design gifts that you'll definitely want to give. And, just as important, get.

What do you get when you combine an obscure speed contest, some scrap aerospace material, and one very obsessed California engineer? A bike that can push 80 miles per hour. Behold the Cutting Edge II, a nine-foot, 42-pound recumbent ride that may be the most efficient human-powered machine ever built.

Mountain-bike training on a stationary bike is like prepping for a rodeo on a merry-go-round: The thrill is gone, and you’re just spinning. Enter the Trixter X-Bike: Hinged handlebars rock from side to side to provide the core-and-upper-body workout you get from blazing trails and climbing hills—minus the risk of…

I'm looking for a bike to do a bit of everything: commuting year round, several short rides in spring, and some off-road racing in early fall. What's your opinion of the Gary Fisher 29er bicycles, and how exactly do they differ from other high-end hybrids (for exple, the Cannondale Bad Boy HeadShok or the Kona Dr Dew)? I currently own a Trek 1200 road bike for racing and a worn hybrid for commuting and bad-weather training, but would like something fast, comfortable, and durable for all-around use. Can one bike do it all? Jarle Bergen, Norway

Have I got an expensive proposition! I'm planning a trip to Italy and thinking it might be the perfect time to buy a new road bike straight from the factory, say Pinarello, De Rosa, or Colnago. Are there any advantages to doing this, such as incredible savings, or seeing the bike in progress and test riding it in the mountains? Are there drawbacks, such as duties, taxes, exchange rates, warranties and language that would make this way more trouble than it's worth? Thanks for your wisdom! Bob Foster St. Louis, Missouri

I'm planning a three- to seven-day mountain biking trip this summer. If I'll be riding up to six hours per day, what tent, sleeping bag, and backpack will I need? As always, your advice is very welcome. Mark New York City

OK, this is a serious question. You seem like the kind of guy who does a fair amount of biking in cold, windy places. I've recently started to use my bike to commute to work and have noticed a "small" change in a very personal area. The wind goes right through my pants, and when I arrive at my location my little guy is tucked away like a scared turtle. This isn't a real huge problem, just inconvenient and uncomfortable. Do you know of any underwear or pants that could help fight this problem? Karl Rostock, Germany

What's a good, moderately priced tire for mountain biking in the snow? I'm not looking to spend a fortune for a studded snow tire, just something with better traction that I can use in the spring as well. Paul Patterson, New York