My job affords me the luxury of getting to try out all manner of cool stuff, and I truly have been a spoilt wee bairn this year.
From super-duper go-fast bikes and do-it-all winter wagons to stupid fixies and, of course, my tandem, I’ve been lucky enough to ride a selection of wonderful bicycles and use loads of different kit this year.
However, as with every year, a number of products stand out. These are seven of my top picks from 2018.
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Gear of the year 2018
All-City Mr Pink Classic
I’ve only had my All-City Mr Pink Classic frameset built up for a few weeks now, but it has already earned a place on this list.
The build, which is as close to perfect for a winter bike as I am ever likely to get, definitely plays a part here, but the overall ride quality of the bike is just wonderful.
Sure, it’s not the lightest frameset in the world, but the pleasing sproingyness of the steel tubing matched with fat 28mm tyres and reasonably snappy handling makes for a truly sublime ride.
Knowing I can happily chug along comfortably for zillions of hours in all conditions, with the road illuminated indefinitely by the bike’s dynamo lighting, also inspires a strong desire to sleep in a ditch in a bivouac bag — which I haven’t felt in quite some time.
I have lots more planned for this bike, so keep your eyes peeled on site and in our BikeRadar Diaries video series for more.
I’ve done my best to shed some light (eyy!) on dynamo lighting technology this year, but it’s still a sorely uncovered aspect of bicycle tech that needs more love.
The sense of independence that the reassuring rumble of a dynamo hub gives is unbeatable on long rides. If you’re thinking about investing in some new lights this winter, bear in mind that a dynamo setup can often be very affordable compared to some top-end battery-powered lights.
If you’re not certain about committing to a whole new set of wheels — though dynamo hubs do have some distinct advantages — you could also consider something like Velogical’s bottle dynamo, which I used earlier this year.
Maybe 2019 will be the year of the dynamo — I will certainly do my bit to make sure that’s the case.
Rose X-Lite 6 Ultegra Di2 disc
I first rode the X-Lite 6 bike way back in January and used it all the way through the summer in a few races during hill climb season and was still blasting about on it until very recently.
I don’t want to give away too much, because I have a full review planned for the bike soon, but it’s safe to say that I really, really enjoyed my time on the bike.
To those of you — and that includes you, Rose — I promise I will get this review written ASAP. The pressure of having not done it has been hanging over my heard like a sword of Damocles. Watch this space.
- €4,099, international postage available
The Safety Pizza
If you’re a child of mid-century cycling culture, then this little reflective number will no doubt bring back fond memories — hanging a natty reflective triangle from your weather-worn saddle bag is pretty much compulsory for a certain generation of audaxers and cycle tourists.
This pizza-shaped number is a cheesy (get it?) throwback to these cult-classic cycling accessories.
The Safety Pizza is a totally customisable, reflective triangle that is hung via two sturdy pop buttons and made from DOT-approved materials.
The Safety Pizza has been a welcome addition to improving my everyday visibility on the bike, but it has also been very helpful on a number of occasions when my rear light has run out of charge. This is never a good situation to be in but at least the pizza added a degree of visibility.
Finally, there’s no getting around the fact that the pizza looks fabulous on my Instagram account and, at the end of the day, that’s what matters over all else.
Note that these little pizzas sell out almost as soon as they’re added as stock to the site, so be sure to act quickly if you want to grab a slice!
Challenge Paris Roubaix 28mm tyres
Tan-wall tyres are cool and black tyres are boring. I will keep screaming this into my two-man echo chamber for the rest of time and will endeavour to make sure they’re on every bike I own for the rest of the time.
If said tyres so happen to be Challenge’s light, fast, supple (but devilishly difficult to fit) Paris-Roubaix tyres, then I’ll be a happy boy.
- £58 / $82 / $110
Rapha Brevet insulated gilet
This insulated vest from Rapha joined me on far more rides than I expected this year.
The Brevet gilet is lined with Polartec Alpha insulation, which, as I discovered, does an absolutely marvellous job of keeping you warm no matter how damp the weather made me or how profuse my sweating.
Indeed, it was that which had me pairing it with summer kit more often than I expected, as we were treated to a delightfully warm and no-doubt-global-warming-induced summer here in the UK.
When I inevitably got hideously sweaty during a fast effort, zipping the gilet back up would keep me warm on descents or when indulging in a cheeky post-ride pint.
As we’ve moved into the winter, I have also found myself bringing it on nearly every ride and can see me doing so for many years to come.
- £130 / $180 / AU$230 / €155
GripGrab RaceThermo neoprene overshoes
Simply put, these are the best overshoes I have ever owned.
The simplicity of their construction is what sets them apart from every other overshoe I have used. Critically, they have no zips or other fussy fastenings, which any winter-hardened roadie will almost certainly tell you is where overshoes fail first.
Instead, you pull the overshoes on before your shoes and the tight ankle gasket holds them in place. A thick Velcro strap is then cinched around the arch of the shoe to stop the overshoe from rolling back over your shoe.
The overshoe is made from 4mm thick neoprene and has held up to a lot of abuse, as has the durable portion around the toe and base of the overshoe.
Simply put, before I owned these I viewed overshoes as disposable items — these have, however, changed that.
- £45.95 / €54.95 / US and AU pricing N/A