Just like the rest of the BikeRadar team, I’m in a massively fortunate position when it comes to being able to experience different bikes and pieces of kit.
Being invited onto fabulous press launches and getting to ride in enviable destinations – on others’ expense – are obviously lovely ways to spend time. But the job also brings with it an enormous sense of responsibility.
One thing that I always try and keep in the front of my mind is value for money, because funnily enough being surrounded by top end parts and kit can desensitise even the most hardened of journos. I try to put myself in the position of my friends, many of whom are pretty skint and just want to buy what is going to work for them.
So, what you’ll find is that my choices aren’t ground-breaking, and neither are they the most up to date, but they are items that I’d truly recommend and wouldn’t hesitate to spend my own cash on (or on again in some cases).
Superstar CNC Nano Tech flat pedals
These pedals must have been with me for four years or so now. They have been on more bikes than I’d care to remember and have even survived where cranks and frames haven’t. Their brutally battered bodies have been stumped, thumped and jumped across terrain ranging from loamy Scottish forests to Utah’s dusty trails. One pin has been torn entirely from the pedal’s body and its outer seals are cracked but what’s truly remarkable is the fact that both of the (optional extra) titanium axles still rotate smoothly and without play. Badge snobs will probably turn their noses up, but they’re the ones missing out.From £36.99
Giro Jacket shoes
£99.99 / US$120 / AU$149
Yeah, everyone knows about these now, but it’s not until you try them for yourself that you really realise the benefit. The only thing more annoying than dropping a chain is having one that is flapping about all over the place. If you are going to switch to a 1x drivetrain then quite frankly you’d be a mug not to fit one… just make sure you don’t overgear yourself. My top choices are from Middleburn, Hope and Superstar, the latter being just £25.99 delivered.From £25.99
IXS Flow Knee pads
£49.99 / US$69.95 / €59.95
Shimano hydraulic disc brakes
For as long as I can remember I’ve been putting Shimano hydraulic brakes on bikes, and I’ve yet to regret it. I’d recommend Shimano brakes in the same way that I would do a Japanese car – they are the Honda Civic of mountain bike brakes. Well engineered, inexpensive and easy to maintain. I’ve been on pretty much every braking option out there and, price considered, you can’t beat the balance of modulation, power and simplicity that the big S delivers.
Yes, the standard organic pads can get minced rather quickly in the wrong conditions and I’ve heard mutterings of the ‘resin only’ rotors on the cheapest brakes being problematic but on the whole Shimano stoppers are bloody brilliant.
Oli is a senior writer at BikeRadar.