Once in a while a product arrives that stands out as one of the true greats, gaining almost universal acclaim in the cycling community.
Here are five awesome bits and pieces that everyone loves, that punch well above their weight or redefine their product category.
1. Shimano Tiagra groupset
When Shimano updated its Tiagra groupset, it created a product that offers incredible performance and amazing value.
It sits below the universally acclaimed 105 groupset, but still retains most of the performance — the only major concessions being some added weight and dropping from 11- to 10-speed.
But that doesn’t matter, as the finish and shifting is well on par with other top-spec groupsets.
Tiagra is punching well above its weight in terms of cost and position within Shimano’s range.
2. Continental GP4000S
Everyone has an opinion on tyres, but take a quick look at the information black hole that is the Internet and you’ll find one tyre that’s rated by almost everyone: the Continental GP 4000S.
It’s not the lightest, fastest, grippiest or cheapest, but it’s a near-perfect compromise of everything you look for in a high performance but practical ‘real world tyre’.
The 4000S is available in a variety of widths all the way up to 28mm, keeping it bang on trend with the wider-tyres-are-better movement.
3. Camelbak podium water bottle
The humble bidon might seem too basic to include on this list, but Camelbak’s Podium series is the crème de la crème of water bottles.
Its one-way patented Jet Valve means you just need to grab and squeeze when you need a drink.
This means no fiddling with caps and no hydration mix spilling over your hands and jersey.
If you’re travelling, the nozzle can be fully locked out and removed for cleaning.
A product punching well above its weight? We think so.
4. SKS Raceblade mudguards
Mudguards aren’t the sexiest product in the world, for most they’re very much function over form, but we can’t help but love the SKS Raceblade mudguards.
Designed to fit on bikes without mudguard eyelets — hello fancy race bike — they’re a fit and forget product that will keep you dryer, happier and warmer through nasty weather.
That fit is also exceptionally simple, so transferring between bikes is not a problem, even if you’ve got fancy tube shapes.
Compared to the clip-on mudguards of old, these are in a completely different league.
5. Castelli Gabba jacket
It wasn’t that long ago that the only option if you were riding or racing in the rain was to wear one of those bin bag style, sweat trapping rain capes. And let’s face it, they were rubbish.
Then, Castelli sponsored riders started racing in these tight fitting jacket-come-rain-capes. They were so good that other pros teams would use the same jacket and cover up the branding.
The Castelli Gabba shrugs off light showers with ease. It’s not truly waterproof, so in a downpour it lets the water in so that the close fit can keep you warm in much the same way a wetsuit does.
Since those humble beginnings, nearly every clothing manufacturer has followed suit with their own conceptually similar lines.