Good, dependable cycling gear makes riding more enjoyable. We’ve gathered up some of our favorite cycling gear here, as chosen by Road Bike Rider contributors. These are some of our favorite cycling products that are currently available on the market. Some are new products, and some have been around for a while, but they’re all worth a look, in our opinion.
Do you have a favorite piece of cycling gear? Tell us about it in the comments! It will give our contributors some ideas for future product reviews, and readers some ideas of what else they might need.
By Jim Langley
Silca Pumps & Accessories
Silca pumps and inflation accessories have been my go-to flat fixers and airing tools for decades. Their Impero frame-fit (some custom painted to match) graced every one of my road bikes since the 1970’s, because it was such a trusty ride-saver. I’ve reviewed some of their great products in recent years, such as the Hiro chuck, Tattico Bluetooth Mini Pump (that has taken the place of their Impero for me), and their update of the famous Pista floor pump.
I’m currently testing their new SuperPista Digital floor pump, which boasts an easy-to-read settable and color digital gauge; Silca’s Hiro chuck (the best ever made in my estimation); an ultra stable 3-footed base; an ash wood handle; Silca’s renowned and highly efficient leather plunger piston design; an extra long hose; and my favorite feature so far, the magnetic chuck docks (top and bottom). Finally a pump where you don’t have to worry about putting the hose and chuck a certain way when you’re done. Just dangle the Digital’s chuck anywhere near the base and the magnet grabs and holds it fast. So cool.
Silca backs their products with excellent warranties and support, such as maintaining a complete selection of replacement parts and coming up with helpful tools for riders. Like their new pressure calculator app – a first of its kind as far as I know. It’s this level of passion for offering the ultimate tools and accessories that keeps me coming back time and again for their new products. Here’s a link to their pressure calculator (this is the Beta version).
King Titanium Cages
I’ve lost count of how many King Titanium Cages I have on my bicycles. I like them so much because they’re a pleasing shape, weigh next to nothing at a scant 28 grams, and they hold bottles with a vise-like grip. No matter how rough the going gets, you never lose your hydration. Every cage is built in Durango, Colorado, hand bent and then welded. They’re made of hollow titanium tubing – and so light, that If I dropped one in your hand you would barely know it’s there.
DeFeet’s Wool Socks and Gloves
One of the oldest cycling fabrics is still one of the best. It’s wool – because this magic fabric keeps in the warmth even when it’s wet from sweat or rain and snow. My favorite wool products that see almost constant use during cold weather are DeFeet’s Woolie Boolie Socks and their Duragloves.
Both are thin, so the socks work fine even in tight cycling footwear and the gloves can be worn as liners inside thicker mitts for when it’s frigid outside. DeFeet’s products are comfortable, fashionable with plenty of designs/colors and long-lasting – I’ve never worn out a pair, in fact.
Park Tool Truing Stands
Unless you build wheels or want to take it up – or at least fix wheels, this product pick might be a little over the top. But, since I make my living as a wheelsmith and rely on it, I want to give a huge thumbs up to Park’s TS series of truing stands. In case you’ve never seen one, truing stands hold wheels and include indicators for super-accurate truing and tensioning.
I’m still using a Park TS-2 model truing stand, which I’ve built thousands of wheels on going back to when I first purchased it around 1980. What’s awesome about Park’s stands is their ease-of-use. Everything is done with three knobs. One moves the uprights together to tightly clamp all types of axles, automatically centering the wheel in the stand in the process.
And the other two allow fine tuning the indicators as you tighten and loosen spokes to true, tension and perfect wheels. Having used many different stands, I can say that Park’s is the fastest and easiest tool for building wheels I’ve used.
Park’s pro level stands are built for constant shop use, and mine still looks and works like new. But, because wheels keep changing, I really need to get Park’s new version the TS-4.2 Professional Wheel Truing Stand, and that’s what I recommend you purchase if you’re getting into wheelbuilding.
It’s Park’s best stand yet because it accommodates all the new wheel sizes, axle types and even works with the fattest tires still mounted. Not having to remove tires to fix wobbly wheels is a major time saver especially with tubeless where you have to deal with the sealant. Park even offers accessories for the TS-4.2, such as a dial indicator setup, and a disc rotor truer (pointer and dial indicator) making that tricky job much easier.
Park Spoke Wrench
If you’re never going to build wheels, but would like to true your own on your bike, another of my favorite Park tools is their SW-0 Spoke Wrench. This wire-loop style wrench is shaped right and vinyl dipped to be comfortable in the hand. And its jaws hold tightly to nipples so not to round even soft aluminum ones. Be sure to measure your spoke nipples and order the correct size spoke wrench for your wheels.
Hollywood Rack Valet
If you have a hitch style bicycle rack for your car or truck, I think you will love owning a Hollywood Rack Valet. I still consider it one of the best accessories ever and use it every time I load the bikes on our cars or take them off.
The Rack Valet is used before you put your bikes on your rack or after you take them off. It performs three important jobs. First, it holds the rack the same way it’s held on the car because the Valet has both sizes of receivers built into its sturdy frame. Just slide your rack into the right one and voila, your rack stands and stays upright in the Valet. Which means it can’t topple and smack into your cars or anything else in the garage – or fall on your foot!
Next, the Valet’s built-in, sturdy wheels make it a breeze to roll your heavy hitch rack to and from your car so that you don’t have to carry it and risk a painful shin bump walking while carrying it in front of you. And, last but not least, having the rack stored in the Valet means that it’s always easy to roll the rack out of the way when you’re working in your garage. It’s also designed to not be any wider than the rack so that no more space is needed to store the rack.
Look Keo Pedals
My fondness for Look clipless pedals goes back to 1985 when Bernard Hinault came to San Francisco to race in the Coors Classic joining Greg LeMond on the La Vie Claire Team. While the race was surely important to Hinault, even more so perhaps was his after-race role as a celebrity spokesperson for Look.
Because, Look chose that race to introduce the first fully functional and mass-produced road clipless pedal, the Look Delta. There had been a few attempts at making clipless pedals before by Cinelli and Aerolite, but none had offered truly easy entry/exit, fully adjustable cleats and knee-saving lateral float.
I was one of the lucky people to get one of the first pairs of Look pedals in the USA from Hinault. And, while I’ve tried many different brands and models of clipless pedals since 1985, Look pedals are on almost all of my road bikes to this day.
The model I ride now is Look’s Keo pedals, mostly their budget models, the Classic and Max Carbons. I choose these because they’re light, work great, last almost forever and don’t break the budget.
The things I like about Looks is the ease of getting in and out; the excellent engagement and how you feel super secure in the pedals for maximum efficiency. Plus, they just plain work with nothing more than an occasional spritz with lube on the jaws. And they offer the right amount of lateral float to save the knees. I still view Look’s clipless design as among the greatest cycling inventions ever.
Shimano SPD Pedals
Since not every roadie wants to use dangerously slippery road-only cycling shoes, I also give props to my favorite “walkable” clipless pedals, Shimano SPDs. Walkable clipless pedals include much smaller cleats than road only cleats.
They’re smaller because the SPD cleats fit inside recesses built in the soles of shoes designed both for cycling and walking. By recessing the cleats, they still engage and lock into the pedals. Plus, when walking, the cleats “hide” up inside the shoes so that the full treads on the soles are in contact with the ground when you’re hoofing it.
Shimano’s SPD pedals have jaws on both sides for even easier entry/exit than Look’s road pedals. And, they’re every bit as high-efficiency and long-lasting. Like with Look pedals, the entry/exit spring tension on SPDs can be adjusted to your preference. I find that all the SPD pedals perform similarly so I usually purchase the M520 models versus splurging for the higher end ones.
By John Marsh
AForce AL33 Wheels, with Continental GP 5000 25mm Tires
I decided to get a new wheelset this year, and I knew going in that I wanted to go with aluminum – not carbon – rims. Nothing against carbon; I just prefer a bulletproof aluminum all-arounder wheelset that is both aero enough for the flats and fast group rides, and light enough for mountain riding. For years, I’ve been on Velocity Deep-V rims, mated to DT Swiss 240 hubs, laced with Sapim CX-Ray spokes.
I also knew I wanted to try something different this time, as my old Velocity rims are not as wide as more modern designs. After researching aluminum rims, I decided on AForce 33s, touted by the Dutch company that makes them as the fastest aluminum wheels in the world. See their site for an explanation, testing data, etc. What really sold me is the toroidal shape (wider in the middle) and 19.6mm internal width. The tires almost flow from the rim, forming a super-sleek profile – and that width with my normal 25mm tires allows the lower pressures that boost suppleness and riding comfort. I’m now at a standard 80 psi front, 85 psi rear the once or twice I air up per week.
And – oh, my – they are lookers, too, with very understated graphics (unlike many wheelmakers, which like to “billboard” their names on their rims). I also went with the black ceramic brake track, both for the added braking power and to complete the gorgeous overall look of the wheelset. I stuck with the Sapim CX-Rays, but went with White Industries T11 hubs (all in a build kit from BikeHubStore.com).
To finish off my sweet new wheelset, I bought some Continental GP 5000s. I absolutely love the setup, and I’m certain I will for years to come. An interesting side note is that I’ve had more than one longtime riding buddy ask me, upon seeing them for the first time, if I got a new bike – not new wheels!
By Sheri Rosenbaum
Bontrager Lights – I use a front and rear light on every ride… day or evening. Mine were a free company sample sent for review, but I liked them so much that I have also bought these at full price to give as gifts.
Rear Bontrager Flare RT Light – Read my full review. https://www.roadbikerider.com/bontrager-flare-rt-rear-bike-light-review/
Front Bontrager Ion 800 RT Light – Read my full review. https://www.roadbikerider.com/bontrager-ion-800-rt-headlight-2/
Jules Threads Women’s Cycling Apparel
Stylish, comfortable (century tested) and affordable. The first jersey and bibs were samples provided by the company for review. I bought two more kits at full price, along with matching socks.
Read my full review. https://www.roadbikerider.com/jules-threads-women-s-dot-jersey-and-bibs-d3/
Follow Hollow (see my review here). My first pair was a review sample sent free to test, prior to a Kickstarter launch. I liked them so much that I became a Kickstarter supporter.
I’ve also ordered four pair Alpacas of Montana socks (read more about them here).
Overall, I’ve purchased about 6 pairs of alpaca socks over the last couple of years at full price.
Rollga Foam Roller – Better than the traditional foam roller. Easy to travel with. Initial foam roller was sample from the company but have bought other of their products at full price
See full review: https://www.roadbikerider.com/rollga-foam-roller-d3/
By John Yoder
Take-A-Look Cyclist Mirror
It’s a small but mighty item that I purchased this summer: the Take-A-Look Mirror. For years I’ve used a helmet-mounted mirror that had one practical adjustment, i.e., I could easily move the mirror from side to side while riding. Moving it up and down meant having to stop riding, remove the helmet and bend the spoke-like holder and try to guess how far it was pointing behind me and not at the sky or the ground – a process that usually took me two or three tries.. Then when the mount to the helmet moved slightly, I had to adjust the mirror all over again.
The Take-A-Look Mirror made both of these adjustments much easier. It has a hinge on the top for up-and-down adjustment and a hinge on the side for in-and-out adjustment, both of which you can manage while riding. The mirror attaches to the frame of glasses or helmet. (The standard is a frame mount.) The mirror is an acrylic rectangle with no distortion, so what you see is not magnified or distorted in any way. It is light and does not cause excessive pressure on your nose when mounted on the frame of glasses. The wire that attaches the mirror to your glasses also adjust to different frame widths. Mounted correctly, this mirror allows you to see what is behind you with a minimum head turn. I love this mirror. It’s available from Amazon, as well as REI and many local bike shops.
By Rick Schultz
Lake Cycling Shoes
-The only shoe with a full carbon fiber sole.
-The widest sole across the metatarsals ensures your toes don’t fall off the edges
-Several models are heat-moldable
-The BEST cycling shoe, period
-The key to Lake shoes is the measuring. I have taken training as to how to measure and recommend getting help from me before you buy.
Disclosure: I sell Lake shoes at my bike fitting business.
Better than a custom cycling insole, since most podiatrists know how to make running insoles but not cycling insoles. Icebug makes a thin and fat version, and both have a generous metatarsal hump inside which fills the transverse arch, preventing it from collapsing which would allow metatarsals to cut blood flow and crush the nerves to the toes, making them go to sleep.
By Brandon Bilyeu
GORE SHAKEDRY membrane technology
Having recently tested the 7mesh Oro jacket (provided to me by 7mesh) I can say that GORE’s SHAKEDRY membrane is a huge step forward in wet weather comfort, and the best part is that it’s not a technology limited to one brand. Currently the SHAKEDRY membrane is being used in rain jackets from Gore, 7mesh, Castelli, and Rapha.
To sum up the advantages, SHAKEDRY is 100% waterproof, super breathable, and windproof in a lightweight fabric that never loses breathability, and doesn’t lose performance over time like DWR. For those that brave the rain this is a big improvement in comfort. No more wetting-out DWR coatings and being a sweaty mess. And jackets made from SHAKEDRY are easy to take along on every ride as they pack down to fit in a jersey pocket. About the only downside is that the SHAKEDRY membrane is not protected by an outer face fabric so it not a good fit for wearing backpacks or riding through tree branches and bushes. But in normal roadie usage I’ve found it to be very durable.
By Lars Hundley
Garmin Varia Rear Radar and Taillight
The Garmin Varia rear radar unit is something that sounded like the dumbest thing ever until I actually saw one in action on a group ride and witnessed how useful it really is in warning you about vehicles approaching from behind. Now that I actually own one, I don’t like to ride without it.
It tells you much earlier than you’d ever perceive a car coming up from behind, and it also shows you a little graphic on your bike computer screen indicating how close it’s getting, and whether it is approaching slowly or quickly. It tracks multiple vehicles at once on the screen. It works with most recent Garmin units, Wahoo units and the Hammerhead Karoo. Or, you can buy a dedicated display unit to mount on your handlebars if you don’t use a compatible bike computer. I paid full retail price for mine, and it was worth every penny.
Rene Herse Tires
I can’t rave enough about Rene Herse tires. I’ve ridden them in several different models, and recently reviewed the ultra wide Switchback Hill 48mm 650b model here. I’m also quite fond of the 32mm Stampede Pass 700c tires, if you have the room in your frame for them. The additional width doesn’t slow you down at all with these tires, so go as wide as you can fit! If you’re limited by frame clearance, they go as skinny as 700 x 26mm with the Cayuse Pass model. I ride mine set up tubeless, but you can just as easily ride them with tubes. The extralight versions have always been reliable for me and rarely flat, and are the fastest. I purchased my Rene Herse tires at full retail price.
Orange Seal Tubeless Sealant
I’ve tried several different sealants for my road, mountain and cyclocross / gravel bikes. My favorite is Orange Seal. It has worked the most consistently of anything I’ve tried, and for some reason it also always seems to be the easiest to set up a new set of tubeless tires with for me. I’m a mediocre mechanic at best, so I don’t want to make a huge mess of sealant when I’m installing tires and can use all the help I can get. I bought mine at full retail.
Any Major Brand of Smart Trainer
I ride a Wahoo KICKR that I purchased at a discounted price, and I love it and recommend it. But frankly, I don’t care which brand of smart trainer you buy. I just think that you should consider buying one. What makes a smart trainer “smart” is that it measures and recognizes your wattage, and can also send back the exact resistance to your pedals to force you to ride at the correct wattage for a specific interval. When you use this feature with one of the many training apps, it’s a game changer for increasing your fitness. And these training apps are actually fun to use, believe it or not.
Zwift is the cycling app that everyone mentions by name, for good reason. It does so many different things that there’s something for anyone who rides on a trainer. You can simply “free ride” around the online world and chase down other riders who are using Zwift around the world, and that’s a good way to pass the time and get a workout. But consider joining a group training ride, or racing a Zwift race, or using one of their dozens of included specific trainer workouts. (You can build or upload your own workouts too, or a workout prescribed by your coach.) There are even complete training plans with a series of workouts to complete over time to help you prepare for an event. I mostly use Zwift in workout mode, with the occasional race. But you might use it in a completely different way, and that’s what makes it such a great app. I pay full price for my Zwift membership.
Specialized RBX Cycling Shorts
I’ve been wearing Specialized RBX cycling shorts for somewhere close to 10 years, and they are my favorite shorts. (Unlike many cyclists, I prefer cycling shorts and don’t like bibs.) Specialized has updated the design and chamois of these several times over the years, and I still like the newest iteration. I still also wear two or three previous design versions that are still in rotation, because they last so long. I buy mine at my local bike shop at regular retail price, and sometimes directly from Specialized at full price.
Doug kirk says
I tried some Renee Herse 32 mm tires and was very excited about them based on the reviews I had read. But I was very disappointed because they were amazingly difficult to mount on my regular tube type Mavic rims that I found them on acceptable. I’ve been riding for 40 years and have mounted hundreds of tires on dozens of different rims. I would never have been able to dismount and mount one at the side of the road.
Road Bike Rider says
That’s interesting, because I also own that width and have not had trouble. I can get them on with a single lever and sometimes with just my hands.
Will Haltiwanger says
I am running Renee Herse 32 on my front wheel and a larger size 44 on the rear. Had no problem with mounting them on my THS40 rims.
My wife and I have the 700×38 gumwall Barlow Pass ( I think) tires and they were a little tight fitting
but manageable. Ride quality nice.
I have a Castelli Alpha RoS jacket (“don’t-tread-on-me orange) and a Castelli Perfetto jersey that are just excellent. I purchased both at Competitive Cycling. Each time I wear these items I’m just so impressed by how they fit so well and are well made. And *no*, I don’t work for Castelli or CC. Both items are not a just-one-function item but are versatile and serve a wide temp range. I wore the Alpha RoS jacket in a lttlle drizzle-mist (drist?) in mid-40s temp and was not only comfortable but also dry.
I rarely write reviews but these two items are worth your consideration.
Doug (Madison, WI) Kirk says
I actually find mounting Rene Herse tires easier than other brands.
Interesting that an experienced rider found them to be ‘very difficult to mount the tire and two others found it ‘very’ easy.