Here at Canadian Cycling Magazine our editors are fortunate enough to get to test out a lot of different bikes, accessories, apparel, technology and more. We also grow attached to some of what comes through the doors and come to rely on gear on our riding throughout the year. Some of the gear we use and love the most is brand new while other things have been out for a while but we just keep coming back to them. So here are 12 pieces of gear that stood out to us in 2018:
Philippe Tremblay – Web editor
Garmin Varia RTL510
I didn’t know what to expect when I started using the Garmin Varia RTL510 radar light. Now, I think of it as an indispensable tool that doesn’t only help keep me safe but gives me some measure of peace of mind while riding rural roads. The radar alerts me when a car is approaching from behind far earlier than my own senses would and as a car passes the blinking light ensures I am well visible to drivers. The light is bright and has great battery life. I use to never ride with a light during the daytime but when you have a light this good at your disposal, it’s worth using even on the brightest and clearest of days. Read the full review.
VéloColour Tube & Tool Dynamite Roll
For years I struggled with the internal conflict of having a saddle bag strapped to my bike. Most of them are an eyesore and not nearly compact enough for my liking. VéloColour may be better known for their stunning paint jobs but their hand sewn in Toronto soft goods are well thought out and beautiful pieces. The Dynamite Roll has room for a tube, patches, a $20 bill in case of emergencies, a multitool and my favourite tire levers. There’s room for more but those are the essentials and I favour a mini-pump or my frame pump over CO2 every day of the week. Best of all, it looks great on my bike. I barely notice it and never wish it wasn’t there. Read the full review.
Silca Impero Frame Pump
Life is simply better with a frame pump. Unless you are trying to win a hill climb or you have a follow car I don’t know why I would ride without Silca’s sleek looking and powerful Impero frame pump. When I travelled, I was able to rely on the Silca to get my tires up to pressure upon arrival. In unfamiliar places, an extra tube gave me the confidence that unless I had severely bad luck I would never be stranded on the side of the road. While I would revert back to my Fabric hand pump on hammerfest rides, the Silca was a steady companion the rest of the time. Another important factor is that it gave my bike a classic swagger and a certain je ne sais quoi that didn’t only make it a choice of convenience to have it on my bike. Read the full review.
Terry McKall – MTB web editor
Shimano Saint pedals
Expectations were high when Shimano finally released a clipless pedal in its top-end Saint gravity group. The M-820’s bring Shimano’s characteristic cleat engagement, familiar to many loyal followers of the Japanese brand, to a downhill worthy pedal. They’re not perfect, the 2.5 mm steel pins could be taller, and the platform will not be wide enough for some riders preferences. The pins are an easy fix for those who want more traction. I found the platform wide enough and appreciated the pedals durable construction. After six months of abuse and many rock strikes, they’re showing inevitable external signs of abuse. Functionally, they still spin smooth with zero play in the axle and cleat engagement feels like new. Read the full review.
SDG Tellis dropper post
This post checks all the boxes. It’s easy to install and competitively priced. Through six months of riding in winter much and summer dust, the Tellis has been flawlessly reliable. SDG’s first dropper post has spent much of that six months on a hardtail, without the benefit of suspension to buff out the trail. The lever has an effortlessly light feel that is the only one I’ve tried to come close to Wolf Tooth’s benchmark ReMote LA. Read the full review of the SDG Tellis dropper post. Read the full review.
Racer Motion knee pads
Racer’s Motion knee pads stand out for two main reasons. They fit my lanky twig-legs and feature full-zip so you can put them on without having to take your shoes off mid-ride. The pads are a good length, have excellent side of knee protection and quality construction. Through summer heat and soaking wet December mud-fests, the pads have stayed put and stayed comfortable. Read the full review.
Andre Cheuk – Associate Editor
Shimano Tokyo Bag
I know what you are thinking, Shimano makes bags? But the Tokyo bag has been my go-to for the past two years, everything from daily commutes, carry-on when I fly, even the odd race day when I toe the line. Chances are if I left the house that day, the Tokyo bag came with me. It’s got just enough compartments to keep me organized and my laptop separate from smelly workout gear. The roll top closure expands for grocery runs and a hidden rain cover keeps everything dry in a downpour. With its muted colours, it even looks classy enough for business (casual) meetings. I especially like the external access zipper of the padded laptop compartment, which helps speed me through security. Most remarkably It still looks brand new after two years of near daily use, and probably will last another 20. Read the full review.
Castelli Idro Jacket
The sky was grey, thick with low hanging clouds, rain was a virtual certainty. Normally I am one to beg off at the slightest hint of rain, find something else to do, preferably indoors. But it was the last day of a brief visit in the Italian Dolomites and no one wanted to waste it hanging around the hotel, not even me. So I stuffed the Idro jacket in my jersey, clipped in and set off. Sure enough, fat droplets started falling not 10mins into the ride, and stayed that way for the next three hours, as did the Idro on my back. Having owned plenty of rain jackets, all of which promise to be waterproof and breathable, but none of which quite delivered, I girded mentally to being soaked and chilled. But as we rode, a surprising thing happened, I stayed dry and comfortable. I didn’t need to take the Idro off on climbs and put it back on for the descents. It kept the rain from coming in and let my sweat out. I actually enjoyed myself, rather than suffering through what would have been misery. To me that’s the magic of the Idro and its Gore Shake Dry fabric, letting me ride when I otherwise couldn’t or wouldn’t. Sure, it’s eye wateringly expensive, but how much would you pay for extra ride days? Read the full review.
Matthew Pioro – Editor
Garmin Vector 3
For someone who rides different bikes for testing and heads to cool locales, sometimes, to test them, the pedals are a great, portable away to capture the power I put out on every ride. They definitely help to appease the number geek in me. Also, these pedals have gotten better throughout the year. At the start of summer, Garmin shipped out new “doors,” the screw-in caps the hold the two batteries at each pedal. These new doors have greatly improved battery life. The accuracy of these power meters is very good, a bit “spike-y” when compared with the Shimano power meter, but consistent. And when you pair the pedals with an Edge 1030 head unit, man, you get tons of data.
Sportful R & D Zero jacket
I’m a skinny guy, so I’ve mastered the art of layering for my cold rides. When I got the Sportful R & D Zero jacket, which is one of the thickest, warmest jackets I’ve gotten my hands on, I knew I could drop a few layers. The jacket, despite having a bit of loft, still feels like a road-cycling piece. It’s great for late fall, early spring and even the occasional winter ride in Southern Ontario. The sizing is a bit silly though. I’m usually a size small. My R & D Zero is large and it’s almost snug on me.
Dan Walker – Social media editor
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt
It may not have some of the fancier features like colour mapping or a touch screen. But what the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt does do, it does really well. The menus and buttons are intuitive and easy to use. The mapping is incredibly simple to read and understand on the fly, and it pairs super easily with heart rate monitors and power meters.
Donnelly PDX tires
A surprisingly good all around tire. Looking at the tread pattern I had these initially pegged for mud duty, but they’ve performed surprisingly well on mixed surfaces. A closer inspection shows a consistent line of center knobs that roll surprisingly well on hard ground, making this a great choice for gravel racing and cyclocross where you’re hopping between different surfaces.