Yes, it’s time for introspection, rumination, and the imposition of our opinions as to what the most noteworthy gear has been this past year. Some of it is glaringly obvious, and could not be denied its due. Others are more subtle, and may not resonate immediately with all of our readers. One thing is certain, however, and that is that all of it would be welcome in our own personal gear stash.
Smith Overtake Helmet—A chance to witness the beginnings of truly innovative technology is not an everyday occurrence. However, with the release of Smith’s Overtake helmet, graced with both MIPS and Aerocore technologies, we are suddenly on the forefront of change. Aerocore utilizes a hybrid foam/Koroyd liner, which looks like a bunch of short straws glued together. These straws absorb, crumple and disperse energy 30% better when tested to international standards, according to Smith. Plus, the Koroyd structure allows for bigger openings and increased active airflow through the helmet, keeping you safe and fresh. Whether or not Koroyd is the future of helmet technology, the door is open to alternatives to traditional expanded foam liners providing a helmet’s sole impact absorbing capabilities.
Schwalbe One Tubeless Tire—Even though tubeless tire technology has been agonizingly slow to gain traction in the road world—especially compared to its near-instant take over on the dirt—Schwalbe forges ahead with the One Tubeless Road tire. With a compound specifically formulated for the One, dubbed OneStar Triple, the inherent qualities of tubeless are enhanced, resulting in traction and cornering grip that are off the charts. Boosting the already superior flat resistance of tubeless tires, Schwalbe’s One casing receives ultra light weight V-Guard protection, making their One Tubeless the ultimate choice for a reliable, high-performance race tire.
Cycleops Silencer Direct—Although not the first to utilize a direct drive interface between the bike and trainer, CycleOps advances the convenient platform by using a remotely-operated magnetic resistance unit. Even though it’s still a trainer— you’ll still be “riding” indoors—the two other biggest drawbacks of trainer workouts are eliminated; wearing out your tire, and fitting the skewer into the trainer dropouts. Instead of melting the tire against a roller, your rear wheel is omitted altogether, with your frame’s dropouts mounting onto the Silencer’s stable axle, and the chain wrapping around a permanently mounted cassette. Additionally, no front wheel leveling block is needed, eliminating the need for an extra accessory. Workouts can be tuned with five levels of magnetic resistance, adjustable via a push of the handlebar-mounted remote lever. A wide, four-point base makes the Silencer incredibly stable for high-output training, and the magnetic resistance unit dramatically cuts down on noise. CycleOps’ Silencer direct drive trainer represents the next step in indoor training; amazing ease of use, high stability, and excellent resistance quality.
Garmin Edge 1000—A dashboard for your bike, the Garmin Edge 1000 navigates, coordinates, and informs. Keep your phone in your pocket and let the Edge 1000 relay incoming calls and display texts. Smartphone connectivity is via blue tooth or Wi-Fi, enabling real time uploads to Garmin Connect for virtual racing. The Edge 1000 communicates with almost every external performance sensor using those same protocols, plus ANT+ and Shimano’s proprietary wireless channel for Di2 compatibility. A full-color touchscreen responds in the rain and while wearing gloves. Mapping data is stored in the unit, granting immunity from the limitations of cell coverage. Navigation features include custom route generation based on mileage goals and points of interest, especially useful for pub crawl weekends. Other nifty perks include optional remote control, and magnet-less cadence and speed sensors.
GoPro Hero 4—What needs to be said about the latest product from the undisputed leaders of action cam technology? The Hero4 lifts the ceiling as to what a camera can do, and is available in two different editions with distinct features. Get the Hero4 Black for the ultimate in processing power, or the Hero4 Silver for capabilities that aren’t too far behind, but adds the ultra-convenience of built-in touch screen controls.
Osmo Nutrition for Women—Women are not small men, and are as different on the inside as the outside. Three products engineered for a woman’s physiology—Preload Hydration, Active Hydration, and Active Recovery—take into account the high and low hormone phases of the natural female cycle to help women exercise and recover the right way with specifically tailored ingredients. Sure there are other women’s-specific products available, more so than ever before in fact. But what makes Osmo for Women so noteworthy is that it acknowledges and addresses the difference in how women’s bodies utilize fuel and nutrients.
Fox Downpour Jacket—You’ll be scouring the forecast for rain after the Downpour becomes part of your wardrobe. Tech and stylish, the Downpour may just find its way into your daily ensemble on and off the bike. Comfortable, stretchy, waterproof, breathable fabric sits light on your body, and is cut for ease of movement and an unobtrusive fit. We appreciate the removable hood, which is designed to be worn under your helmet, instead of the flappy, unwieldy oversized hoods that fit over your lid, and invariably let water, wind and cold onto your head and then down your back. Ugh. Outfitted with waterproof zippers, vents, and sealed seams, the Fox Downpour ticks all the boxes for looks, performance, and fit. That’s why it’s at the top of our inclement weather gear list.
Enve M Series Wheels–Light, strong, wide, and stiff, the Enve M wheels are specifically tuned for the different needs of every niche in mountain biking. Available in 90Ten, 70Thirty, 60Forty, and 50Fifty editions—the nomenclature indicates percentage of time spent descending/climbing—with widths ranging from 21 to 25 millimeters wide internally, the Enve M-Series Wheels give their rider an unfair advantage in each discipline. Coming from the unlikely DNA of Enve’s SES-series road rims, the M-rims are at once wispier and burlier than any other Enve creation.
BOS Kirk Shock—Daniel’s product review of the Kirk sums it up perfectly. “Suspension this good is rare; rare enough that until now, you had to ride bikes really fast for a living to get it. You might not believe me when I say this, but I honestly feel that the BOS Kirk is so good that it makes the stock equipment offered by BOS’ competition feel amateur by comparison. If you are serious about your equipment, you owe it to yourself to ride a BOS Kirk and experience it for yourself. I really can’t imagine suspension working any better than this.” With several sizes available to match most current bikes, the BOS Kirk can take you to the next level, or two or three beyond that, right now.
Light and Motion Taz 1500—Technically, the Taz 1500 isn’t a new product, it has simply been updated with an additional 300 lumens of bright, clean, dripping-with-love light. But really, the Taz could have stayed exactly the same and we still would have graced it with Gear of the Year honors; it is that rad. Fully contained within a housing that’s around the same size as your phone, the Taz 1500 eliminates the need to keep track of a charger, mount, battery, cables, and light head. Plus, its beam pattern and output are fully capable of getting you down any trail, on any bike, at any speed you choose to travel.