As is our tradition here at BikeRadar, we are wrapping up the year with a look back at our go-to gear from the last 12 months. I still rely on a lot of the same stuff I have listed in this column in previous years: Shimano SPD pedals, Stages power meters, Specialized Power saddles… But here are seven things I used religiously this year.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting old and soft, but on cool to cold days I really appreciate clothing with Windstopper, like Castelli’s Perfetto here in blueJosh Patterson / Immediate Media
It’s nearly mid-December as I’m writing this, and it’s cold here in Colorado. On my lunch ride today up into and back down the mountains, I had wind-blocking panels on my shoes, gloves, hat, jacket… even the crotch of my bib tights. Gore’s wünder-fabrics keep getting better; I only partly unzipped the jacket for an hour-plus climb, then zipped it up and didn’t freeze on the descent back home.
But even on milder days (like the one shown above from months ago), I’ve come to appreciate having Windstopper short- and long-sleeve jerseys, such as the pictured Castelli Perfetto, as alternatives to jersey-and-vest combos.
Feedback Sports Cassette Pliers and Abbey Bike Tools Crombie lockring tool
Feedback Sports’ cassette pliers + Abbey Bike Tools’ Crombie lockring tool =Ben Delaney / Immediate Media
It wasn’t that long ago that removing a cassette necessitated three tools: a chain whip, a cassette lockring nut and a wrench to turn it.
Abbey Bike Tools didn’t invent the one-piece lockring wrench, but damned if the little company hasn’t near perfected it. Similarly, Feedback Sports didn’t produce the first chain pliers, but the Colorado company’s take sure does work well.
I spent 60 hours riding in October, nearly all of that inside, switching back and forth between 10 different smart trainers. I moved cassettes around quite a bit, and each time rejoiced to have these two tools. Never will I fumble with a separate wrench and lockring-nut tool again.
Also, with Abbey’s Crombie tool, you don’t even need to remove the rear wheel’s quick release — the tool just slides right over it. (Feedback Sports has a similar tool, but the fit into lockrings is just a touch too tight.)
I’ve used these Pedro’s hex wrenches for I don’t know how many yearsBen Delaney / Immediate Media
I have been using my steel set of Pedro’s hex T-handles for I can’t even tell you how many years. The markings on most of them have been worn off.
There are certainly fancier and more expensive sets of hex wrenches out there, but I love the feel and grip of the thick plastic handle, the wiggle room that the ball-head ends on the long extensions provide, and the years of sure, solid-fitting grip that the straight-edge ends have provided up top.
Pedro’s stopped making my six-piece set a while ago, but you can buy a nine-piece set now, with 2–10mm plus T25 Torx wrenches.
Bontrager’s Harelbeke bag is what I used for every trip this yearBen Delaney / Immediate Media
I do a fair amount of traveling, and the following things always come with me: laptop, camera, cycling kit — and a Bontrager Harelbeke bag to carry it.
Whether going to the Classics for two weeks with a suitcase plus a backpack, or just going on an overnight trip with only a backpack, the Harelbeke is always the first thing I grab.
Many packs have padded laptop sleeves, and some have brightly colored main and secondary compartments to make finding things easier. But none that I have found have that plus a lower shoe compartment — except this one.
I wish it had a padded camera section in the main pouch, but in lieu of that I wrap my camera in a jersey and put it inside my helmet. Riding clothes, casual clothes and a toiletries bag get tucked around that.
This way, even if the suitcase gets lost in transit, I’m okay. My laptop and camera are safe, and I’m not missing out on riding at my destination.