We put our biggest bike geek in the saddle to test out some of the season’s best cycling gear. From road rubber to repair stands, these following items have performed at a stand-out level and have earned this GJ editor’s stamp of approval.
Feedback Sports Pro Elite Bicycle Workstand: $235 — While lots of stands can hold a bike solidly, few are lightweight, collapsible and easy to use. Since the $235 Pro Elite Workstand from Feedback nails each of these criteria, we use it multiple times a week.
The stand is perfect for hauling to a race or just a trail day. Folding to 5” x 6.6” x 36.9”, it’s easy to stow in a vehicle. Those with limited shop space like me can collapse and store easily, too. Another feature we adore is the push-button, quick release jaws. Quick in, quick out is the gist of this top-of-the-line portable workstand.
Michelin Pro4 Service Course Road Tires: $75 — The Pro4 Service Course is a fast, expensive, race-built tire. It’s also one of the best I’ve ever ridden. Michelin‘s flagship road model is tacky, light and supple/smooth on the road thanks in part to its 110 TPI count.
I chose the 25c for more grip and comfort. Cornering hard on these skins is a delightful exercise — its dual compound and tall profile grip the road like nothing I’ve ridden before. That same tall, sharp profile means a faster transition to a hard lean and more traction once you’re there.
Giro MTB shoes: $150 — From the outside, I couldn’t see anything special about the new Privateer mountain bike shoes from Giro. While good-looking and seemingly well made, they didn’t appear to break any molds… until I wore them on a 100-mile gravel century race.
These shoes are exceptionally comfortable. I finished the day blister-free and smiling. Since then, I’ve logged close to 1,000 miles in all conditions and can boldly state that these shoes are a great choice at the $150 (often less) price range. Stiff, durable, and hike-able if the need arises. Available in stylish white or black they are a bargain in the mtb shoe category.
Louis Garneau Helmet: $150 — “Team EuropeCar and even Crissie Wellington have requested the Quartz helmet from our lineup,” a company spokesperson told me. This was supposed to shock since the helmet is priced low for most pro-level equipment.
But the Quartz is a great top-tier helmet whether the price tag reflects that or not. I could feed you all the marketing terms, but I’ll just say that this helmet is comfortable, fits great, keeps a low profile on your noggin, and it has massive venting. If you like all those characteristics, then this $150 hard hat is a solid choice.
Helly Hansen Pace Bib short: $120 — Norway’s Helly Hansen, better known for its sailing and mountaineering gear, entered the cycling market in 2012. As in the two categories mentioned above, H/H’s cycling gear represents the tough, bordering on overbuilt, side of apparel.
Material and chamois are on the thicker side for an “everyday”-weight short. I tested these bibs on back-to-back 12-hour days in the saddle.
Yeah, my hide was sore in the end, but the bibs held up as well as anything else I could have chosen. At $120, they’re priced appropriately for their “several seasons” quality, though the reflective graphics have begun to peel off my test pair. Beyond this annoyance, Helly’s entry to this new market looks promising.
GoPro Wi-Fi Bac-pac and remote: $100 — It seems like every month GoPro releases some new addition to make its cameras even better. Its latest, the $100 Wi-Fi BacPac and Remote kit, are nice additions to the basic camera setup.
We’ve tested and found these add-on items to be a huge help when trying to operate a camera while biking. The remote, which easily attaches to your wrist, features a screen that mimics the one on the camera. Seeing what your camera is doing is a cinch!
Using the remote to trigger the camera from a distance is great, too. What’s not? Having to charge the camera, BacPac and remote all separately. If you can stomach that small hassle, the reward is recording P.O.V. action even more easily and at a higher quality than before.
Stay tuned, as coming this fall GoPro is promising more options for wi-fi transfer to phone or tablet, and an upgrade to let you use a phone or tablet as the camera remote. Also coming soon, an app update that will allow live streaming to the web.
—T.C. Worley is a contributing editor.