Given how much gear we test at BikeRadar, it’s a proud endorsement of any product if it is used by our team of testers on a regular basis. Here's a look at five items that senior video producer — and occasional vaping model — Ben Healy reaches for when he hits the trail.
Beyond a decent race fit jersey and bibs I’m not at all interested in aero kit, so I haven’t switched from this older-shape Kask lid for a few years now, nor do I have plans to.
I appreciate the little touches like the ‘eco-leather’ strap — presumably harvested from cows too polite to fart — and the way the closure system drops down to cradle the back of your head.
I don’t know/care how ‘fast’ the Mojito is, but I do know it weighs 223g in my size and the air flows so freely at any speed that even on the steepest climbs on the hottest days I’m barely even aware I’m wearing a helmet. That’s a really good thing in my book.
Gore Contest fingerless gloves
I spent most of my youth grazing, cutting and bruising my hands in a variety of stupid farmyard, rope swing and bicycle accidents, and also have circulatory issues in various extremities due to years of equally avoidable alpine misadventures.
So, protecting my hands is now a priority, and for the warmer three seasons I’ve been using these Gore gloves to do that on every commute and road ride for the last four years.
They’re comfortable, light and indestructible; after all that abuse and many, many washes, you’d struggle to tell they’d ever been worn.
Patagonia Wanaka jacket
My job doesn’t involve riding bikes all that much, but what it does involve is spending long days in the freezing cold, walking up steep hills with heavy bags and then standing around for hours on end at the top.
Until last winter I was sceptical about the concept of using bulky down layers to deal with these conditions, so my extreme-weather arsenal was full of base layers, mid-layers and ultralight shells formed almost exclusively from synthetic materials. They worked okay, but when I added the Wanaka things got simpler and a lot more comfortable.
The waterproof shell means you can take advantage of the duck down filling in all conditions, and pulling up the insulated hood provides a womb-like sense of protection and contentment.
Without bothering to think too hard about other layers, I’ve been comfortable alternating between active and standing from -3°C-and-bloody-windy up to 10°C-and-millpond, dusk until dawn. So yeah, I’m down with down.
Endura Frontline base layer
On a cold day* on (or off) the bike, my baselayer of choice is usually this synthetic one from Endura. It’s cheaper and far more durable than Merino, and warmer than a dedicated wicking layer such as a Helly Hansen Lifa (I haven’t experimented with string vests, because, well, because.)
Unless it’s exposed to decent airflow, the Frontline doesn’t actually breathe all that well, but somehow it still keeps your skin warm and dry even when it is itself wet. This takes a bit of getting used to and not everyone would consider it ‘comfortable’ as such, but in terms of temperature regulation the Frontline gets the job done.
Endura also claims it offers muscle support via the miracle of compression technology, but if I’m totally honest I haven’t noticed that.
*Also on the one mild autumn day per year when I pick it erroneously, having forgotten how warm the thing is.
If you’re in the market for a Hex set, then I can recommend these without hesitation. The colour-coding is far more useful than I’d initially imagined. Yes, you’ll easily remember that the 5mm is the orange one, but if you’re anything like me you’ll also end up skipping a step and just matching the colour to the bolt.
Personally, I struggle to recall the numerical size of any bolt, but I can retain the visual memory of the last time I made an adjustment, so I know I need the yellow one for my road bike’s stem, but the orange one for my dropper post saddle clamp, etc.
They work well too. They’ve got ball-heads on the [generously] long end, as well as slightly concave ‘Plus’ profiling that Wera claims prevents rounding and increases torque transmission. Certainly, my bolt heads have suffered a lot less than during the reign of my previous cheap-and-nasty hex set, and I’ve done noticeably less swearing too.
If you shop around you can find a set of these for about a third of the price of the equally colourful PB-Swiss counterparts, which you’ll usually find in pro-mechanics' toolboxes.