Gear of the year 2018: Alex Evans’ top picks

The kit that makes life easier: Alex's top road and MTB gear of the year

Spending as much time out on my road bike, commuting to and from the office, as I do riding the many MTB test bikes that need putting through their paces, means that I have some specific bits of go-to kit that I rely on week in, week out.

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Best bike gear

Hope R8+ LED

Hope's R8+ LED is big and has enough power to eclipse the sun
Hope’s R8+ LED is big and has enough power to eclipse the sun
Russell Burton/MBUK

Commuting to work in the dark of night during winter along the many terrible lanes of Somerset to Bristol city centre requires sun-like luminosity. This brightness is required so that it’s possible to pick out the (many) potholes, ruts, mud and wildlife that all do their best to make my commute more fun.

The Hope R8’s massive array of eight LED lights and huge six-cell Li-Ion battery mean that it can run on max power, producing a whopping 3,000 lumens, for up to 1 hour.

In reality, there’s ample light on even the lowest of constant modes and I’ve comfortably completed 13 hours of riding on a single charge with more to spare.

The light doubles up as my MTB night riding torch and it’s easy to swap between bikes thanks to the battery’s Velcro strap and the head unit’s bayonet fitting — as long as you’ve got two bar mounts.

The power does come at a price though, the whole package weighs a whopping 690g (claimed), but it’s totally worth it for the sun-dwarfing power.

  • £295 / $383 / AUS $525

100% Brisker Gloves

The Brisker gloves are an awesome compromise between feel and weight
The Brisker gloves are an awesome compromise between feel and weight
Immediate Media

Although 100%’s Brisker gloves aren’t the thickest, warmest or even most water-resistant gloves, 100% really hit the nail on the head by balancing feel and feedback through the bars with the amount of warmth the glove provides.

I use mine on both my road and mountain bikes and find that they’re only too hot when it reaches 10 degrees Celsius or too cold when it gets down to 0 degrees. Anything between those temperatures — which is most of the time in the UK winter — and they’re perfect.

At £26.99 / $29.50, they’re not too expensive, and as long as you look after them they’ll last at least a winter’s worth of riding.

  • £26.99 / $29.50

Our favourite MTB products of 2018

Happy Bottom Bum Butter

Lube it up and feel happy!
Lube it up and feel happy!
Immediate Media

The fantastically-named Bum Butter is probably one of the most important things in my life in general. Without it, I feel like a lost man. Religiously before any ride, I’ll crack open my pot of vegan-friendly, 100 percent natural Bum Butter and lubricate all of my crucial parts.

The cream will make any ride infinitely better and keep your bottom in a smooth, soft and zen-like state. The 100ml pot lasts for around 7,000 miles, so don’t be deceived by its diminutive size.

  • £18

Polar GPS tracking devices

The V650 has navigation and mapping
The V650 has navigation and mapping
Immediate Media

Although I recognise the fortunate position that I’m in, having two same-brand GPS units that sync to one Strava-compatible and easy-to-use system is a godsend.

I use my V650 unit for road riding; its bulkier shape and large screen make it ideal for navigating and it’s big enough to display every bit of ride-related information I need.

For MTB, I swap to the smaller M460 GPS, which doesn’t have navigation or maps but is small enough to be tucked away from the line of fire and potential damage in the event of a (highly likely) crash.

The GPS still has enough functionality to keep even the geekiest statistician at bay, though.

Polar's M460 is small but has plenty of functionality
Polar’s M460 is small but has plenty of functionality
Polar

The heart rate monitor and mounting systems are all inter-compatible, so you won’t need to worry about fitting different accessories to different bikes. Plus, if one is low on battery, you can always grab the other without stressing if it’ll work with your heart rate monitor or bike sensors.

  • V650: £189.50 / $249.95
  • M460: £199.50 / $229.95

Madison Zenith men’s 4-Season DWR trousers

Madison's Zenith 4-season trousers really are a game changer for wet or winter rides
Madison’s Zenith 4-season trousers really are a game changer for wet or winter rides
Alex Evans

In temperatures from sub-zero all the way up to around 14 degrees, and if it’s particularly sloppy but not raining outside, these semi-waterproof, lightweight and impressively breathable trousers are my go-to bit of kit to keep me out on the bike for longer and having more fun.

The DWR coating keeps even the most monstrous of splashes from penetrating the trousers’ fabric and the tough-wearing material means they won’t get ground to bits on sloppy rides.

The £90 price tag is more than reasonable for the performance on offer and the comfort and practicality of not getting mud-covered legs from every winter ride.

  • £89.99
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