The athletic equipment that made the cut for our second annual celebration of the best in design and technology.

When I agreed to accompany my friend on an epic bicycle tripfrom Canada to Mexico on the popular Pacific Coast Route,my previous biking experience consisted of a 1.2 mile commute to work. Suddenly, I’d be goingfrom nada to 60-plus miles a day for almost two…

CARRY-ON Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Courtesy of Ortlieb Like to haul bigger loads, like a laptop, on a rear rack? Get ORTLIEB's grab-and-go BACK-ROLLER CLASSIC (pair, $165;, one of the toughest, and best-looking, waterproof panniers available. Check out 2009's best commuter bikes and our bike…

The easiest way to build fun and adventure into every day? Lose the car keys and ride your bike to work—and everywhere else. Here's how to pull it off in style. Saddle up!

Is there one singular multi-sport, multi-purpose helmet out there? I like to participate in most outdoor sports, kayaking, biking, ski/snowboarding, climbing, etc. Are there any multi-sport helmets that would work for all those sports? Having four different helmets seems like a waste. Ad Hood River, OR

I still use cages on the pedals of my Bianchi. I find it easier to get in and out of the pedals than clips. However, I cannot find shoes that are designed for cages. Do such shoes exist? Andy St. Paul, MN

I enjoy riding my hybrid bike (Trek 7300), for fun and exercise, on both pavement and gravel/dirt/rocky surfaces. But I'd like something faster and more aggressive. My rides are usually about 20 miles and I'd like to go longer. Would you recommend a cyclocross or another hybrid? Tim Basking Ridge, NJ

My wife and I would like to take our 13-month-old daughter cycling with us. We will mostly be doing short trips around town, and we are having trouble deciding between a trailer and a child seat. Which one is safer, and how will they affect the handling of the bike? There are numerous options available in both categories, and we would like to know if you have any recommendations that won't break the bank. Noah West Lafayette, IN

What's going on inside a top-level MTB cleat? We dissected this $380 model to find out.

I've owned touring bikes for almost 25 years. When it was time to change my ride, I would automatically go for touring. But I must admit that I don't leave for extended periods as often (a way of saying I'm not touring anymore, actually—but that’s very hard to admit). I don't really need triple chainrings, but I like the possibility of installing racks to carry moderate loads (computer, lunch, extra clothes) when I commute to work. What are my options below 1,000$? Eric Quebec, QC

I just starting out on a bike and plan on cycling daily, both by the lake and around town. I was wondering how good Marin bikes are, particularly the Marin Kentfield FS? Is it comfortable for a woman, and what is the difference between 17 inch and 19 inch? Is this bike okay for a beginner? Thank you. Nancy Chicago, IL

Tracking the rise of that ubiquitous urban accessory.

1. FELT ZW1 BIKE It looks fast, it feels fast, and it is fast—even if you’re not. The oversize carbon-fiber tubes are dialed for female riders; they were never too stiff, never too soft. Shimano’s finest Dura-Ace components, Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels, gel grips, and Felt’s women’s carbon saddle…

1. MT. BORAH CUSTOM With seven-week turnarounds and minimum orders of just six pieces, Mt. Borah makes customcycling gear easier than ever. Jerseys from $83; 2. VITTORIA OPEN CORSA EVO CX The handmade CX can handle pressures up to 200 psi and is…

Gear Guru- I'm looking for a bike rack that is easy to use and easy to put on the car and take off. I've been looking at the Thule Jaws rack, but on a recent trip to Moab, I noticed almost every car out there was equipped with a fork-lock rack. Do these people know something I don't? Chris Eau Claire, WI

Clip in and take off with these new road and mountain bike kicks.

Outfit your crib with the best new tools for bike repair and maintenance.

Comfort Performance

Video Reviews

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;

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;

The narrower nose and arrowhead shape of Selle San Marco‘s Mantra saddle were designed to minimize chafing ($260;   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


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