Cycling is definitely a sport that requires a lot of gear — much of it pretty expensive. And with so many choices out there, it can be hard to separate the good from the bad.
All year long, we’ve done a lot of the leg work for you. From the newest tech to the latest cycling apparel, we’ve tested tons of products in 2016. Find out which became our picks of the year.
POC OCTAL AVIP
A good helmet should be a lot of things — cool, comfortable and protective. While cyclists do have a love/hate relationship with the Octal shape, this helmet’s overall function can’t be denied. It provides more side coverage than just about any other helmet on the market, and the extremely long, slender vents are known for improving air circulation, increasing airflow and being very aerodynamic. All said, it’s definitely at the top of our short list.
GARMIN VARIA VISION
Best New Technology
While there are quite a few tech companies that have taken a swing at display metrics on eyewear, few have done it better than Garmin’s new Varia. Why? Because it can be used with your existing pair of sunglasses, it isn’t as heavy as similar units and plays very nicely with all of your other Garmin technology. The in-sight display will allow you to view performance metrics, incoming texts and warnings for approaching vehicles when paired with the Garmin Varia Radar. Welcome to the wave of the future.
RUDY PROJECT TRALYX
The ImpactX-2 full-coverage lens on the Tralyx offers amazing clarity and is among the most durable photochromic options available. What sets these apart from the other sunglasses we tested were the PowerFlow vents that help to decrease fogging and the adjustability of the frame, which can be customized at the temples to fit nearly every face shape and size.
LEZYNE MACRO DRIVE 800 XL
If you’re a commuter, your headlight/taillight combo is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces of gear. The Macro Drive 800XL is a bomb-proof option that will stand up to daily use and bright enough (800 lumens) to keep you visible during the early morning and late evening hours. But what’s best of all is the $69 price point, which offers very good dollar-for-dollar value.
CASTELLI CLIMBER’S 2.0
Best Summer Jersey
On the hottest days, the Climber’s 2.0 jersey from Castelli is simply better than the rest. The mesh panels across the chest breathe extremely well, and the Flusso and Strada material used on the front, shoulders and back works just as well as a base layer for sweat evaporation. Because it fits like a second skin, it’s also a good race-day option in extreme summer weather.
Combining function, style and durability, the second iteration of the Classic Winter Jacket from Rapha is one of the best jackets we’ve ever tested. It works remarkably well in the rain, doesn’t cause overheating during intense efforts — and it’s extremely well made. Though the price tag is high, it’ll last for years.
ENDURA CLASSICS PRO SL JERSEY
Best Rain Gear
The problem with rain jackets, particularly during intense training rides or races, is that they often cause overheating. Though the Classics jersey from Scotland-based Endura is short-sleeved, it comes with matching waterproof arm warmers that can be added or removed depending on how chilly the weather is. It also breathes extremely well and provides good coverage on the tail for wheel splash. It’s also well-made, reasonably priced and comfortable even when rain isn’t a factor.
ASSOS T.LAALALAI S7 LADY
Best Bib Shorts
We’re big fans of Assos bib shorts, especially when comparing the quality of their chamois inserts with other brands. It is by far one of the most comfortable and well-designed shorts currently on the market — so much so that many of the top pros are said to sew them inside their sponsored clothing. The T.laalaLai S7 Lady is the company’s very first bib short designed specifically for women, and it’s every bit as impressive as those in their men’s lineup.
SPECIALIZED S-WORKS SUB ZERO
Best Road Shoe
Racing shoes don’t often equal comfort. The exception is the Sub Zero from Specialized, which features a shoestring closure, a very secure heel cup and a Warp Sleeve for improved aerodynamics. Despite the extremely stiff carbon sole, they’re so comfortable that it’s easy to forget that you’re wearing shoes at all — due in part to their near weightlessness (194 grams). No surprise, this is lightest Specialized has ever made.
REYNOLDS AERO 46 DISC
Best New Wheelset
With the UCI’s decision to allow disc wheels in the pro peloton, 2016 has seen wheel manufacturers struggling to keep up. The best new disc wheel we tested was the Reynold’s Aero 46, which is fast and extremely tough and durable for a carbon race wheel. In fact, we’ve used it in nearly every discipline — from time trials to cyclo-cross — and have found it hard to come up with a list of complaints. It is by far one of the most versatile disc wheelsets of the year.