Readers of The Skinny and 11spd may have noted that my glass isn't so much a half-empty vessel as a void of nothingness and despair. Despite this, I do experience from time to time the faintest twinge of pleasure when presented with gear that doesn’t suck.
Luckily 2015 has been a good year for lovers of bike tech, and 2016 is showing great promise too. Here are five things that moved the needle for me over the last 12 months…
Focus Izalco Max Disc
You’re probably sick to death of hearing about how disc brakes are taking over the world, but this is my gear of the year, so suck it up. I haven’t had the opportunity to review it over the long term yet, but the Izalco Max Disc impressed me enormously at the launch. It’s the first disc machine I’ve ridden where it really felt like there was no compromise at all, a bona fide race bike that rides sublimely and which just happens to have really good brakes.
Garmin Edge 20
I’m no data whore. I like to log my rides, but I don’t dissect and analyse them exhaustively after the fact, so a minimalist GPS computer is right up my street. The Edge 20 is tiny – as small as some non-GPS units – and it just gets on with the job. Battery life is ample, the screen is easy to read, and it will navigate a pre-planned route for you. Its big brother the Edge 25 is arguably better value, but for my money, the 20 is ideal.
Speedplay Zero Pavé pedals
Whatever their quirks, I’m a diehard fan of Speedplay’s road pedals so the eventual release of their much-teased Pavé pedal was welcome news. It lives up to the promise, offering all the performance of the standard Zero in a design that handles muck so much better. They look pretty darned cool too.
Superstar Pacenti SL23/Icon Ultra wheels
I like to fondle carbon sensuously as much as the next guy but I’m also the sort of prematurely middle-aged bore who believes powerfully in the value of straightforward, useful things. This wheelset from Superstar has rubbish looking stickers and specs that will leave your mind decidedly un-boggled, but they are exceptionally good value for money. They’re light enough, stiff enough, and wide enough to be a damned good buy.
Chien King rice husk pedals
I went to Taiwan this year and saw some weird and wonderful things, ranging from some crazy pedal robots to a cargo bike that folds in half. The product that really stuck with me was these pedals made out of rice husks. They’re of no use to me personally as a roadie, but the application of lateral thinking appeals to me immensely. The pedals make good, sustainable use of an otherwise largely wasted resource. And they smell great.
Happy new year, folks!