BikeRadar gear of the year: Matthew Allen’s 2015 roadie picks

Our wiriest and most embittered technical writer ekes out a few morsels of joy

Readers of The Skinny and 11spd may have noted that my glass isn't so much a half-empty vessel as a void of nothingness and despair. Despite this, I do experience from time to time the faintest twinge of pleasure when presented with gear that doesn’t suck.

Luckily 2015 has been a good year for lovers of bike tech, and 2016 is showing great promise too. Here are five things that moved the needle for me over the last 12 months…

Focus Izalco Max Disc

First impressions of focus's izalco disc are of a no-compromises machine that just happens to have disc brakes:
First impressions of focus's izalco disc are of a no-compromises machine that just happens to have disc brakes:

Related: Focus Izalco Max Disc – first ride

You’re probably sick to death of hearing about how disc brakes are taking over the world, but this is my gear of the year, so suck it up. I haven’t had the opportunity to review it over the long term yet, but the Izalco Max Disc impressed me enormously at the launch. It’s the first disc machine I’ve ridden where it really felt like there was no compromise at all, a bona fide race bike that rides sublimely and which just happens to have really good brakes.

Garmin Edge 20

Garmin's minimally styled edge 20 gps computer gets on with the job unobtrusively:
Garmin's minimally styled edge 20 gps computer gets on with the job unobtrusively:

Related: Garmin launches Edge 20 and 25 GPS bike computers

I’m no data whore. I like to log my rides, but I don’t dissect and analyse them exhaustively after the fact, so a minimalist GPS computer is right up my street. The Edge 20 is tiny – as small as some non-GPS units – and it just gets on with the job. Battery life is ample, the screen is easy to read, and it will navigate a pre-planned route for you. Its big brother the Edge 25 is arguably better value, but for my money, the 20 is ideal.

Speedplay Zero Pavé pedals

Speedplay's zero pavé pedals lived up to the hype:
Speedplay's zero pavé pedals lived up to the hype:

Related: Speedplay Zero Pavé pedals review

Whatever their quirks, I’m a diehard fan of Speedplay’s road pedals so the eventual release of their much-teased Pavé pedal was welcome news. It lives up to the promise, offering all the performance of the standard Zero in a design that handles muck so much better. They look pretty darned cool too.

Superstar Pacenti SL23/Icon Ultra wheels

They won't impress the snob, but superstar's pacenti sl23/icon ultra wheels delivered superbly for the money in testing:
They won't impress the snob, but superstar's pacenti sl23/icon ultra wheels delivered superbly for the money in testing:

Related: Superstar Pacenti SL23/Icon Ultra wheels review

I like to fondle carbon sensuously as much as the next guy but I’m also the sort of prematurely middle-aged bore who believes powerfully in the value of straightforward, useful things. This wheelset from Superstar has rubbish looking stickers and specs that will leave your mind decidedly un-boggled, but they are exceptionally good value for money. They’re light enough, stiff enough, and wide enough to be a damned good buy.

Chien King rice husk pedals

Chien king's rice husk pedals smell damn good:
Chien king's rice husk pedals smell damn good:

Related: Chien King’s rice-husk pedals smell good enough to eat

I went to Taiwan this year and saw some weird and wonderful things, ranging from some crazy pedal robots to a cargo bike that folds in half. The product that really stuck with me was these pedals made out of rice husks. They’re of no use to me personally as a roadie, but the application of lateral thinking appeals to me immensely. The pedals make good, sustainable use of an otherwise largely wasted resource. And they smell great.

Happy new year, folks!

Check out all of our 2015 Gear of the Year articles

Matthew Allen

Senior Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Likes climbing a lot, but not as good at it as he looks.
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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