The Summer Road Bike Gear Guide
We are deep into the Tour de France's first week, and if you've been watching the coverage (carnage?) on TV, there's a good chance you've been inspired to jump into some spandex and onto a bike. We don't blame you; the scenery is par excellence, the mountains are enormous, and the drama is even bigger. It is, as VeloNews put it, a city on wheels.
So, if you, like us, have been struck by the summer cycling bug, we've rounded up some of our favorite pieces of gear to make you feel ready to jump into a breakaway.
Pearl Izumi Elite Gel Glove - $32
Your hands are one of the most important contact points between you and the bike, so it's nice to keep them feeling good. Wearing gloves not only dampens vibrations and serves as padding from the bars, but is also your first line of defense when you fall, which you inevitably will (we all do). When you do, your hands go out. Better to shred these than your palms.
Giro Empire ACC - $219-275
Sure, you know Giro. They make some of the best helmets we've ever seen, and have been doing it for years. But did you know they make shoes? Designed a few years ago with help from our friend Taylor Phinney, and ridden to victory most recently in the Tour of California, these kicks are some of the most comfortable we've ever used, thanks to those laces that provide way more contact points than buckles or velcro. Incredibly stiff and light, they also have an ultra-lightweight sibling coming out this fall, the Empire SLX. It's also always nice to see pro-level shoes at attainable prices.
Bell Gage - $89
It's not usual to find a pro-level helmet for under $100. Almost unheard of, but we found this Bell masterpiece for $89. Even at full price ($190), which is less than most of its competitors, we think this comfortable, light, and well-ventilated helmet is worth every penny protecting your dome.
Rapha Club Jersey - $175
Rapha's use of wool in technical apparel really is incredible. This Club Jersey may commemorate the iconic Italian races, but we're more interested in the supreme comfort it provides while in the saddle. This is the piece of clothing that made us realize that Rapha could be successful off the bike.
SKS Spaero Sport - $34
Most portable pumps are awful. They're really hard to use and will only let you—if you're lucky—get up to half the air pressure required. This SKS is actually good enough to be your only pump if you don't have any floor space for a proper track pump, capable of hitting 115 pounds-per-square-inch. To hit this air pressure, the SKS uses the valve screws to get a firm grip, and the flex hose means that you can pump hard without worrying about ripping the valve out of the tube.
Swift Industries Scout's Motto Tool Roll - $37
Saddle bags are cool, but we're definitely taken with the saddle rolls. Strapping onto the saddle rails, this piece of strong nylon and velcro has pockets for your tube-patching tools and more, unrolling on the ground and giving you a portable workspace.
Castelli Gabba Jersey - $150
As far as rainwear goes, we doubt there's anything better than the Castelli Gabba. In fact, it's so good that many professionals who weren't sponsored by Castelli went out and bought these and blacked out the logos so they wouldn't get in trouble for riding off-sponsor clothing. Extremely wind and water resistant, this jersey is the undisputed champ of cycling rain gear.
Smith Pivlock Overdrive - $239
Coming on the heels of the excellent Oakley Racing Jacket (formerly Jawbone), the Pivlock Overdrive uses a similar full-frame design with easily interchangeable lenses, comfort, and helmet compatibility, but gets our vote over the Oaks with a color we feel can be worn après-ride without feeling like a total chaunce.
Sportful Bodyfit Pro Aero Jersey - $95
There's a good chance the Tour de France will be won this year in a Sportful kit, and while you can't really say it's because of the jersey and bibs, it's certainly one of the many factors that add up. Sportful's Bodyfit Pro series is unbelievably breathable and comfortable on hot days—which you care about—but it's also incredibly aerodynamic, which is fun even if you don't notice those percentage points at 19 miles per hour. While the bibs were among our favorites, this jersey really got us excited.
Louis Garneau Mondo Evo Bib - $122
We loved these bibs as much as the Sportful Bodyfit Pros, with their phenomenal compression quality, comfortable straps, forgiving chamois, and overall airy feel (they're also a great value). But having the name "Garneau" on the side put us over the edge. Why? Well, Louis Garneau is one of the only people to ever put his arm around the Queen, which makes him a king in our book. If you don't want to rep the Canadian, you can always get a color that mutes the stripes.
Pearl Izumi Select Barrier Jacket - $115
It's summer and sometimes it rains. If it's a warm rain, it feels incredible and you're happy. But if there's a little bite to the wet, the Select Barrier is a simple and effective way to stay dry.
Hydrapak Wooly Bottle - $11
Our go-to bottle is the Camelbak Podium, but when we want our water to stay cold, we grab this Primaloft-insulated Wooly bidon. Though there are plenty of insulated bottles out there, this one uses the same stuff in my winter jacket, which is cool.
Garmin Edge 510 - $329
The iPhone's Strava app is awesome, simply and effectively capturing your ride and uploading it to the clouds faster than anything. But if you're going long through any spotty cell service, it won't make it. The Edge 510 does all your iPhone can do and more, adding cadence, heart rate, and temperature to the equation. It's also a great motivational tool—having a display telling you exactly how much left you have to climb can be the difference between stepping off and powering through.