I have about 30 bikes right now including a few amazing vintage ones that I love. So this is a tough decision. But I’d have to say that my favorite bike is my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pro. Because its 20-inch wheels let it fit in a regular suitcase so it’s often free to fly with, or no more than regular bags. Then, when I get on vacation or that business trip, I have a sled that fits and performs just like my road rig at home. I’ve ridden it above the clouds on Haleakala in Maui, jammed with Lon Haldeman & Coach Fred at PacTour Desert and Wisconsin Camps, and gotten lost in Amsterdam on it pulling the suitcase behind the bike because it cleverly turns into a trailer. Yet, the biggest reason it’s my favorite ride is because this ingenious folding bike made it possible to keep my 23+ year riding streak going all these years. Plus, the great people who still make Bike Fridays by hand stand behind their bikes with unparalleled support – important when you travel far from home. https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-bikes/
Favorite Lights? (front, and rear – and why?)
I do not run full-time lights, John, but I see riders with them more and more around here.
I don’t ride enough at night to need a front light. But I do have a favorite rear light, Planet Bike’s Blinky Super Flash http://amzn.to/2ur1Yk0 . It’s about $25, runs seemingly forever on 2 AAA batteries and its best trick is that it comes with a handful of clamps allowing installation lots of different places. This greatly improves the chances of being able to find an ideal location regardless of your frame type and other accessories that may be in the way. Also, this is one bright light. On blink mode, there are 2 small LEDs that blink and then a large center “Blaze” LED to is much brighter. The two different lights levels really get your attention. Planet Bike also gives a portion of its profits to bicycle advocacy.
While we’re doing this, let’s replenish the supply of Favorites and also include:
I can’t pick a favorite. I have owned great shoes from too many makers including Sidi, Giro, Specialized, Shimano, Northwave and Time. If forced to make a pick, I’d give the nod to Sidi because their shoes keep on going like the Energizer Bunny – believe it or not, I have a pair that’s over 20 years old and still working fine – and those are mountain biking shoes!
I use and recommend 2 brands, Park Tool and Feedback Sports. I have made my living with Park’s pro-level Deluxe Single Arm Repair Stand http://amzn.to/2vpsbfR . It’s a heavy-duty stand awesome for full-time bike repair on all types of bicycles and I’ve seen them last 40 years with only minor maintenance required. For bringing along for race/event support, I really like Feedback Sports Pro Ultralight http://amzn.to/2t3fAy4, which packs small, weighs a feathery 10.6 pounds and has one of the easiest-to-use clamps going. I know you can get bargain basement repair stands, but quality stands like these work better making every bike fix a joy, and last longer, too.
Please run the photo of me in my RBR jersey. It’s one of my favorites because RBR is a unique and great publication that I am very proud of and like to support. I save the jersey for special occasions and enjoy when I run into readers out on the road who recognize the logo. It’s comfortable too!
The jury’s still out on this John.. the stuff you recommended didn’t solve my stomach distress. I haven’t given up on it yet. Right now the cure is Pepto Bismol – maybe I should say that 😉
Gel and/or chews
I have a lot of stomach issues on the bike and can’t eat much. The thing that works the best for me is GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gel http://amzn.to/2t3l8Zz . It has caffeine in it, which I seem to need. On good days when my gut is cooperating, as long as I gobble a GU Roctane every 30 minutes, I feel Froomeish all the way to the finish line – even if that’s 6-hours of racing away.
I can’t eat bars on rides unfortunately… maybe I should STOP at bars. Ha, ha.
*Lights. One of our favorite tandem rides, the Colorado National Monument, requires front and rear lights for the 3 tunnels. I always wear brightly colored jerseys for visibility but I’ve begun to use running lights on most rides in spite of the bright Colorado sun, just to add an extra measure of safety.
I use a Bontrager Flare R on the rear, switching two of them around from the tandem to single bikes. This thing is a supernova! By far the brightest of the rechargeable rear lights available. Holds a charge for several long rides, charges quickly, has several modes from flashing to steady and can be seen almost a mile away. On my first ride a woman in an SUV pulled over to ask me where to get one!
On the front of the tandem I use a Cygolite Dart. It’s plenty powerful and has a pulsing mode that attracts attention.
*Shoes. I have gone exclusively to Shimano SPD cleats and recessed-cleat shoes for convenience on tours and my rides that often feature a mix of pavement, dirt road and singletrack. I used Specialized Body Geometry shoes for years but finally realized that the relatively straight last didn’t agree with my banana-shaped feet. Now I use Sidi Dominator MB shoes but with Specialized BG insoles–the best stock cycling insoles available, at least for my feet.
*My favorite bike is currently a Rivendell Roadeo which I reviewed on RBR some years ago. It’s a lugged steel frame and fork designed in the traditional style but built with modern tubing and techniques. Equipped conservatively with Shimano Ultegra it’s a tad less than 20 pounds and rides like my favorite bike ever, a late 70s Gios that I raced on for years. I pair the Roadeo with Compass 30mm Stampede Pass tires. If you’ve never ridden a lively steel bike with supple tires, you’re in for a real treat. The Compass tires ride as well as the old Clement Criteriums that graced the Gios and make the Roadeo the best of old and new.
Pedals – Shimano all the way around...Shimano road pedals on my two road bikes (SPD-SL), Shimano flat pedals on my fat tire and Shimano SPD MTB on cross bike
Helmet – Smith Route -received it as a company sample for product review. Really liked it so keep as my main helmet. I also wear Giro for my night rides since I have a lighting system all set up on it.
Gloves – Wear a lot of different brands…Craft, Pearl Izumi, SealSkinz, Terry, Giro…depends on the temps and the type of biking
Seat Bag – Topeak saddle bag on all 4 bikes. Bento bag on my road bikes and cross bike
Gearing (chain rings and regular cassette) – include model, teeth of rings and range of cassette – On my main road bike use Shimano Di2, 50×34 compact chain ring and 11×32 cassette. SRAM Force on my other road bike.
Computer – Garmin Edge 800. If I forget my Garmin Edge or want to be able to upload immediately after the ride, I use my Garmin Forerunner 920XT
Tires – Continetal 4000s 700×25 on road bike
Bib Shorts – Castelli shorts/bibs/knickers/tights, Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Escape or Pursuit bib shorts, Louis Garneau winter thermal bibs. Terry winter tights
Lights? (front, and rear – and why?)
The rear light I’ve been using for several years on all my bikes is the Bontrager Flare R. It has several modes and can be seen up to 2 KM away in bright sunlight. Also USB rechargeable so no batteries to clog landfills. (Watch for a review in an upcoming edition of RBR). After testing the Bontrager ION 800 RT for RBR review, I started using it on my bikes during the day. Cars can’t judge how fast you are going or don’t see you. The daytime running light (same concept as a motorcycle) makes me more visible. I definitely have seen a difference in how drivers interact with me when using the light. They seem to notice me more and don’t cut me off. (link to Bontrager review)
The Ion 800 RT and the Flare RT can be controlled by certain Gramin models to turn on/off with the Garmin. So you never have to remember to turn them on.
While we’re doing this, let’s replenish the supply of Favorites and also include:
My favorite summer road shoe is Nalini Snake. It’s stiffness provides great power transfer. And it is well ventilated to keep my feet cool. Plus very stylish!!!
For winter riding I used NorthWave winter boots (have road and MTB type). And for fat tire biking with flat pedals can’t beat the toasty warm and dry 45NRTH Wolvhammers
I have a Spin Doctor Pro G3 bike stand I bought years ago. If I had to do it over again I’d buy a more top of the line sturdier stand. This one is good but the arm needs to be more rigid. One day I’ll upgrade.
Bike (which one’s your fave, and why?)
Don’t make me choose my favorite bike. Like you can’t say who your favorite kid is. For all out fun I love my Trek Farley fat tire bike. For all out road riding comfort and travel (when shipping) my Independent Fabrication custom frame “steal is real” is my top pick. For speed and light weight my Project One Domane 6 with Di2, tri bars and aero wheels. For long trail rides my Specialized Crux is top choice. This is why you don’t have just one bike.
Jersey (do you have one from a cool shop or race that you really love?) Feel free to rock your RBR jersey, if it’s among your co-faves! That’s my personal plan. But no pressure….;-)
For the winter my one go to jersey is Louis Garneau Course Wind Pro LS. I reviewed it last winter for RBR. The fact that it has windproof panels and I can add layer under or over depending on conditions makes it my fav. For summer I have two favs. Couer Sports Cycling Jersey in Tropical Punch and Jules Threads dots jerseys. Both provide great fit, function and performance. And I always get compliments (male/female) when I wear it. It’s important to feel good when you ride and all three of these jerseys hit the mark.
I used to use NUUN but they must have changed their formula and it doesn’t sit well with my stomach or digetive track. So now been using Skratch Labs products with good success.
Gel and/or chews
I hate strong tastes for gels or chews when I’m riding. So I like the GU Vanilla Bean gel and the Skratch Lab chews. ShotBlocks work well too
Either Clif bars or Pure Protein bars work well for on the bike fuel
Other take-along food
One of my favorite pairs of socks I got last year at Interbike. Mid-sentence while talking to the rep at the SockGuy booth he interrupted me and asked if I liked Seinfeld. I said “Absolutely.” He ran into the the back of the booth and produced a pair of Soup Nazi socks! But seriously, the warmest and driest pair of socks that I have and use during my winter rides are SealSkinz. They are waterproof and windproof so I can stay out and play longer.
Coach John Hughes
I’ve always been an ultra racer and tourist, never a road racer. My shortest race was 300 miles. I choose equipment based on comfort, functionality and reliability.
Steel frame touring bike – I can put on front and rear racks and fenders if I need them.
Gearing – it’s a triple. The front is something like 45 – X? – 32 and the rear is a 10sp 11 – 30. I almost never use the big ring … I just coast
SPD pedals with MTB shoes – easy to walk around in.
Bottom of the line Bell helmet. Not the lightest, not the most vented but just as safe.
Schwalbe 32 mm tires – good for riding off- and on-road. 32 spoke wheels front and rear.
- eoGear seat bag holds 8.8 liters – always on the bike. I carry enough tools to fix (almost) anything, spare cables, 3 tubes, a few anti-bonking bars, sunscreen, vaseline (for my crotch), long finger gloves, light balaclava, neck gaiter, motel shower cap to go over my helmet if it rains, at least a windbreaker. If I’m climbing a pass I carry a lot more – weather changes fast in CO.
- Burley Designs handlebar bag – useful for more clothes in the winter and in the mountains.
- Kirtland Panniers for touring
- 3 bottle cages (sometimes not enough on a long climb)
I can also use the bags to ride into town and get groceries.
Cateye speedometer – a basic one with altitude since I climb a lot in CO. I used an Avocet 50, which measured climbing, until a year ago when it died. I don’t know how to change batteries and calibrate the Cateye … or even switch to daylight savings. I just pedal over to Cateye here in Boulder and have them do it.
Gloves – I loved Spenco but they stopped making them. Now I just look for whatever has some padding (but not tight).
Shorts: Boure. I’ve been using their shorts, tights, warmers, vest with windproof material on front and 3 pockets in the rear, L/S jacket with the same design, wool jersey, sun protection jersey as well as their XC skiing tights for 25 years. Very comfortable and very reliable.
Specialized Women’s Lithia saddle – Andy Pruitt recommended this to avoid pressure on the prostate.
My favorite shoes are Pearl Izumi MTB shoes. I can use them with both my road and mountain bikes and they’re easy to walk in. And their a size 13 – size 12 is hard to find.
I don’t use a repair stand. I just lean the bike against something or flip it over on the saddle and bars.
REI Randonee steel with 3 bottle cages, very low gears and brazeons for racks for touring. In addition to touring it’s also a great bike for long rides with no minimarts. I also ride a Trek MTB several times a week with no computer – who needs data? MTB builds bike handling skills, requires a round stroke, is a great intensity workout and a heck of a lot of fun.
I was director of the UltraMarathon Cycling Assoc. for a dozen years. Every year I commissioned a new jersey. My favorite is the bright yellow-orange because it’s the most visible. I have a windbreaker with the same design. Photos attached. The photo with the bike also shows my Randonee with gear on the rear rack so it’s obvious that it’s a touring bike.
Caffeinated tea with sugar
Homemade sports drink, which is close to the recommendation of the American College of Sports Medicine. None of the commercial drinks are close to the ACSM recommendations. The recipe is on my website with links to 3 RBR eArticles. The same recipe is also in Eating and Drinking Like the Pros
Whatever low fat, low protein, whole grain bar is on sale at the grocery store. Or available at a minimart.
Whatever low fat whole grain cookie is on sale. Or at a minimart when I stop.
Fruit + most rides include a stop for coffee & pastry or lunch
Since I am very much an everyday rider, my equipment has changed over the years to reflect my current style of riding. My road bike is a 2005 Trek 520, and the only things that I haven’t changed are the fork and seat post – everything else has been modified or replaced over the years.
I am currently using a Deore mountain crank set with 44/32/22 rings coupled with a friction 9-speed 11-32 cassette – the triple gearing makes climbing a breeze even when hauling 75lbs worth of gear.
A couple of years ago I switched from SPD pedals to Vice VP platforms and I wish I had made the switch sooner. I really enjoy the ability to make subtle shifts of my foot placement, particularly when climbing.
For everyday use, I haul my gear in an Arkel handlebar bag. I typically keep a repair kit, two tubes, notebook, camera, snacks, wallet, and phone in the bag.
Speaking of handlebar, about six years ago I swapped the stock Bontrager bar for a Salsa Woodchipper, and it is extremely comfortable. The brake hoods are set a neutral angle, and the drops are very shallow making them usable for climbing.
My computer is a simple Bontrager wireless,
my helmet is a Specialized Tactic (I’ll typically remove the visor for my road riding), and
my tires are Schwalbe Marathon Plus 700×35. I’ve had only one flat in 9 years, and that was dealing with some really rough roads in Alaska and in San Juan, PR.
For gloves, I’ll use Pearl Izumi AmFib gloves in the winter, and before each summer, I’ll pick up whatever is on sale at the bike shop.
As far as clothes, I’ll use normal street clothes for errand riding, going to the library, getting groceries, etc. For my dedicated rides, I use merino wool long underwear and x/c Sporthill skiing pants if it’s cold, and if it’s warm, I’ll use merino wool short underwear and baggy MTB cycling shorts – I’ve completely gotten away from padded bike shorts.
Time RXS. They are getting harder to find and I only know of one other person round here who uses them. This in an area full of keen cyclists. I’ve tried speedplays but found the pressure of the small pedal in one spot made my foot uncomfortable. The Time RXS have a wider platform, decent float and are quick to engage and disengage. I’ve been a happy user of them for over ten years now.
I’m using the Lazer Helium MIPS helmet that we reviewed in the MIPS round up test. It fits my head well, stays securely in place and I’m happy to know the MIPS system is there just in case. One other nice feature is that clip on aeroshield which I have been using more on the cool winter days as an added layer of protection against cold winds.
My ongoing and perennial search for the perfect pair. In 50F weather I’m a big fan of the Defeet knitted gloves; cheap and warm, with a nice grippy texture on the fingers and palms. For colder weather I’ve work a looser fitting pair of large gloves over a glove liner and that has worked OK. I’m still holding out for the perfect cold weather solution.
In warmer weather I don’t use gloves.
Another area where I am still seeking the better solution. I ride a Fizik Arione saddle and have their clip on saddle bag. It’s roomy in the medium size but I’m not wild about the aesthetics. Suggestions welcome!
Shimano all the way. Ultegra with 50/34 up front and 11/28 out back. I find the 50/11 combination is still useful for me as I spin it out on a few descents and I can crank out a sprint too.
An aging but still functional Garmin 500. It works well, the battery lasts a decent amount of time. I would like an instant upload feature for strava for quick after ride analysis over food and beer.
Continental GP4000s II, in 25mm. I find the 25mm tires much more comfortable, especially on my Alto carbon clincher wheels which have a wider rim.
Specialized have a new range of tires out which seem very interesting and are getting good reviews. Any word on these?
Typically Hincapie bib shorts. The RoadBikeRider Voler bib shorts have also proved to be very comfortable and I love the design of the kit.
My long time favorites, now worn out we’re the Lake CX331. I reviewed back in the day.
2016 Felt F1. Before I had this I ride a 2007 Felt FC. I thought this was a great bike until I tried modern carbon fiber. The power transfer difference is very noticeable without introducing any harshness, in fact it’s possibly even now comfortable. I rode on the Blue Ridge Parkway this summer for a week on it and it was a pleasure to ride it all day long.
A spin doctor stand from Performance Bike. It’s ok, happy to listen to other possible suggestions.
Love the styling of my RBR jersey and matching bibs. Hincapie does a good job with our team kits.
Sports drink and gels:
Tied up in the same product, I use Infinit. I can get hydration and about 330 calories per bottle. I wrote a review on this previously and continue to use.
I’m a hold out for Clif bars. White chocolate macadamia nut are my favorites.
Front lights, I like a number of them. The Cateye Volt 1200 can see into the future it’s so bright. However it takes a long time to recharge and it’s somewhat bulky. Lezyne and Niterider have great lights. I like the rear lights from both of these companies.
I use a rear light always, even on group rides in the day. Solo daytime riding I make sure I use a front blinking light every time.
Pedals – I spent my first 6 years on Shimano SPD pedals (mountain bike pedals) because they came on the used road bike I bought and as a broke college student I couldn’t afford any upgrades. When those pedals finally wore out I bought Shimano SPD-SL road pedals because everyone I rode with used them with no complaints. I went with the 105 SPD-SL’s because it seemed to be the sweet spot of price and weight. Ultegra was significantly more expensive with only a small weight savings.
I learned how to click in efficiently in a couple days and have no complaints about the pedals, the single sided entry is not an issue at all. The wider platform of the SPD-SL pedals is noticeable and feels much more stable on the road. Living in the Pacific Northwest I have two main bikes that each see about equal riding time, a summer bike and a rain bike. The rain bike has the older alloy 105 SPD-SL pedals and the summer bike has the newer 105 carbon body.
Helmet – The Giro Synthe is my go to helmet. It claims aero benefits, but the main reason I chose this helmet was the multitude of reviews I read that praised the excellent ventilation. I run hot and sweat a lot so good air movement through a helmet is a must to keep me from overheating and help evaporate the sweat before it runs into my eyes. My personal experience is that the Synthe is very well ventilated, light, and comfortable.
Gloves – For summer fingerless gloves I have several different pairs, nothing special worth mentioning. For the cooler weather I have two favorites. If it’s a cool, dry day I reach for the Pearl Izumi Cyclone Gel Glove. Good warmth and protection that is not too bulky make these gloves very comfortable. For cool, wet days I go with the waterproof Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB gloves. I have found that these gloves can keep a solid rain out for about an hour before the wet starts to creep in. For long rides in the rain I keep a second pair sealed in a plastic bag in my jersey pocket. When the first pair becomes water logged and uncomfortable I switch to the dry pair. Both of these gloves work for me in the 40’s and 50’s Fahrenheit and adding a thin liner glove allows me to use them in the 30’s.
Seat Bag – I like my bikes to look clean and straight so a bag hanging under the seat is not my favorite. In the past I have tried many seat bags and besides not liking the look I had a few other issues. I had trouble with velcro straps being too short and breaking free over big bumps. I also had thigh rubbing issues with even small bags. Rain rides left the bags soaking wet and I had issues with molding even though I keep my bikes in a dry garage. I eventually gave up and now I store my spare tube, tires levers, patches, mini pump, etc in a plastic bag in my jersey pocket.
Gearing (chain rings and regular cassette) – My rain bike has old Ultegra 6500 with 53-39 up front and 12-27 in the rear (that’s right, still running 9 speed). My summer bike has Ultegra 6800 with 52-36 up front and 11-28 in the rear. I find the semi-compact 52-36 to offer great high and low range and is a great compromise between the standard 53-39 and compact 50-34.
Computer – Garmin 510. It has tons of features I don’t use. I’m mostly concerned with speed/distance/time/climbing/cadence and it tracks all these very well. It has worked flawlessly for years. I just press the start and stop button. I do really like being able to download rides to my phone via Bluetooth. Way easier than having to connect to a computer with a cable every time.
Tires – Still running Conti GP400sii. They haven’t given me a reason to try anything else.
Bib Shorts – For years I wore only shorts and always heard rumors about the comfort of bibs, but I was perfectly comfortable in shorts. One day I found a closeout pair of low end bibs at a local shop and decided to try them, which turned out to be a costly ‘mistake’. I found the bibs to be comfortable on my first ride, but I couldn’t say they were any better than my shorts. So on my next ride I switched back to shorts and was immediately aware of the shorts creeping down and moving around compared to the bibs. After all the time I had spent in shorts with nothing else to compare them to it only took one ride in bibs to ruin shorts for me. I couldn’t believe how annoy and uncomfortable the shorts felt. After that ride I went back to the store, bought a couple more pairs of bibs, and threw out all my shorts.
As for a favorite it’s really hard for me to single out one. But if really pressed I would probably have to say my pair of Castelli Body Paint Bibs. This is one of those pairs that I like so much that I rarely actually ride in them, saving them for only the most special rides. The fit is just so comfortable with Body Paint being a very apt description.
Favorite Lights – I love my Blackburn 2’fer as always running lights. Each light has both white and red settings, solid and blinking for both. Makes for a very versatile ‘be seen light’. I run blinking red rear and blinking white front. I also run a true headlight in flashing mode for daytime, Light and Motion Urban 500. When it gets dark and I switch the headlight to solid beam, I still have the front facing 2’fer blinking.
Shoes – I have only worn three brands. I started with Shimano and while they make great shoes they were too skinny in the forefoot for me (of course that didn’t stop me from wearing them for years). Giro’s were also great shoes, but while wider than the Shimano’s they were still a bit too tight. Currently riding the Fizik Uomo R1B and love these shoes. Super stiff, forefoot is wide enough (amazing for an Italian shoe!), and just plain comfortable.
Repair Stand – I use Park’s PCS-10. Best part is the cam clamp is quick and solid. A bit wobbly but it works great for what I need.
Bike – Norco Threshold SL. I know, blasphemy to list a ‘cross bike for RBR, but it’s great on and off the road. I can throw on super wide road tires for days that are going to have rough pavement, grab some knobbies for a gravel ride or a cross race. Disc brakes and full fender mounts. If I could only have one bike this is it. Oh, and it’s gorgeous too!
Jersey – I really don’t have a favorite. It’s frowned upon to go topless so I just grab whatever jersey is on top of the pile. I do enjoy wearing the RBR jersey though as it’s a great conversation starter with other cyclists.
Sports Drink – Hammer Heed plus added salt. I’m bad at eating on the bike so this helps keep up my caloric intake.
Gel and/or chews – Nope, don’t use any.
Bar – Clif bars, really love the Cool Mint Chocolate and White Macadamia. Fig bars also!
Other take-along food – Medjool dates are my go to. Delicious and a great low-glycemic high-energy source.
Anything else you all think is fun to survey?
Socks – Nothing special for summer, but I have some nice Castelli Gregge marino wools socks for the cooler months. I am also a big fan of the SealSkinz waterproof socks for cold and wet days.
Pedals – For my first decade of road riding I used Shimano SPD-SL pedals. Then, after reviewing a pair, I switched to a pair of Look KEO-compatible Sampson carbon pedals, which could use any Look KEO cleats (I prefer the “walkable” version, with rubber tips on the 3 corners for better grip while walking). Last summer I decided to try a pair of Look KEO Blade carbon pedals, which allow me to continue using the same cleats I’ve grown accustomed to.
Helmet – I’ve tested and worn numerous helmets over the years, but I place two of those above the rest. The Catlike Mixino and the Lazer Z-1 (MIPS). I put the Catlike aside to test a Lazer Z-1 without MIPS, then transitioned into a Z-1 with MIPS. Both those two helmets are the most comfortable, best-fitting and most easily dialed-in lids I’ve ever worn. And the Z-1 MIPS helmet flawlessly protected my head in a serious crash a little less than a year ago, during the period when I was testing the helmet. Little engenders helmet loyalty more than that! I’m still wearing the Z-1 MIPS I got to replace to the broken-up one. And still loving it.
Gloves – I have a shoebox full of gloves and various head coverings. Most of the fingerless gloves are Pearl Izumi. I’m not terribly persnickety, but I really don’t like gloves that fasten on the inside of the wrist. I prefer the velcro to fasten on the outside. My very favorite fingerless gloves, though, were some inexpensive Louis Garneau models made for Performance Bicycle – and they have no closure at all. You just slip them on and go. Seems like the ideal solution to me. As for cold-weather gloves, my go-to gloves for years were a pair of Gore with wind-blocking panels and a thin fleece lining. This season, though, I’ve been using some SealSkinz and some Pearl Izumi models for different weather conditions.
Seat Bag – I’ve used a Topeak Aero Wedge bag for as long as I can remember. On an old mountain bike, I had a similar bag, but with the straps that go over the seat rails. I wanted a cleaner, and easier-to-use solution for my road bike. The quick clip that attaches to your seat rails and lets you easily snap on and take off the bag is ideal. The only strap is the one that goes around the seatpost. I’ve had two of them over the years; on the first one, the seatpost strap broke off, and I had it repaired at a shoe repair shop. The cobler riveted the strap back on, and I got another several years of use out of it.
Pedals – On my road bike I used to use Look pedals when clipless pedals first came out but switched to Shimano Ultegra SPD-SL pedals a few years ago – I find the cleats last a lot longer with those. I can get at least a year’s use out of a pair of Shimano cleats. On my mountain bike I use the SPD pedal system. On my gravel bike I have Garmin Vector power pedals (which happen to be compatible with the pile of old Look cleats I still have). So I have three pairs of shoes, each with a different set of cleats.
Helmet I now have accumulated five helmets. I’ve always liked the fit of Giro. I have three of those, and one Bell and one Garneau. I’ve got enough now that I can be color coordinated with almost any jersey!
Gloves – I have a whole drawer full of gloves now. I typically buy Pearl Izumi. I have a more heavily padded pair for mountain biking, and three levels of thickness of long fingered gloves for cold weather riding. When it gets really cold I wear ski mittens.
Seat Bag – I get the smallest saddle bag I can find – just big enough for a couple of tubes, a couple of CO2 cartridges and a mini-tool. I really dislike a bag that rattles or swings around so I go to great lengths to pack the contents tightly (in an old sock) to keep everything snug. I have one for each bike because most of my bikes have different size tubes. I just keep one on each bike. I don’t want to be switching it out every ride.
Gearing – When I started racing in 1973, I always went with Campagnolo Nuevo Record. My paper route supported my fine Italian taste in components. I’ve always appreciated the quality, tradition and appearance of Campy components. But when I bought a fully assembled Trek in 1998, it came with a Shimano drivetrain and from then on I’ve used Shimano. Once you go with a drivetrain, you need to have matching cassettes and wheels so I’ve stuck with Shimano. But I really do like the Shimano. I had a bike with SRAM Force and didn’t care for that. I have Deore XT on my mountain bike and Ultegra on my road bike. I find Ultegra works just fine. I had Dura-Ace on my original bike but Ultegra is a much better value and very satisfactory. I have a 53 x 42 chain ring up front and run an 11-25 tooth cassette on the rear. I don’t like the 39 in the front because in flat Iowa a 42 is good enough. I do have a 39 I put on when I go to hilly places. Call me old school, but when I was a kid all we had were 42 x 52 chainrings with a 14-18 freewheel on the back. As you can guess, I’m not a spinner.
Computer – I use power meters so on one bike I have a Quarq power meter crank and the other I have Garmin Vector pedals and for those I use a Garmin 500 computer. On my time trial bike I have a PowerTap wheel and use the PowerTap computer head.
Tires – I used to always buy Michelin Pro 23mm tires. I liked the color choice – color coordination is important you know – and price. But my latest bike came with Continental 4000s (also 23mm but boring black) and I have not bought another Michelin since. The Continentals ride so much better, wear much longer and get less flats. Once I get something I like, I stick with it. But I’ve read and heard so much about wider tires that for my next set I’m going to trya pair of Specialized S-Works Turbo 26mm tires. Growing up, all we had were tubulars (sew-ups) and I still prefer the grip and road feel of those. But I don’t miss the mess and inconvenience of gluing them on, nor having to sew them up to patch them. But going from tubulars to clinchers is like going from radial to ply car tires. So I’m hoping these 26mm tires will feel a little more like tubulars, with their softer sidewalls. I’ll let you know next year.
Bib Shorts – I have transitioned mostly to bib shorts. I prefer Hincapie brand but any more, I end up getting my clothing from whatever group I’m riding with (my race team, my coaching group, my bike club, RAGBRAI, RBR, JDRF, etc) so brand is not a choice I make. I also have Voler and Primal and both of those are great as well. I have a drawer so full of shorts it will hardly close now. Growing up I had two pairs of shorts – plain black wool with a real leather chamois. I had to wash a pair by hand in the sink every day with Woolite so I would always have a dry pair ready to wear (natural chamois and wool takes a long time to dry). Now I can throw a load in the washer every two weeks. Lycra is great and so are synthetic chamois. Don’t let anyone tell you differently!
I use a rear red blinker light when it is dusk or darker. I don’t use it during the daytime. We had proposed legislation in Iowa for all bikes to have a ‘steady red light’ on the rear. I don’t know why, I think a blinky is much more visible. I only use a headlight when its dark as well. I use it at low beam steady. Those blinky front lights drive me crazy.
Favorite light – Rear – Supernova from Road ID – very small, bright, lightweight, inexpensive.
Front – I don’t even know the brand, it’s a lightweight LED light – very bright, lasts a long time, rechargeable.
Here’s a tip – I bought a couple of LED flashlights from Menards for about $3 each. When riding at night I throw one of them in my pocket as an emergency light in case my other one dies.
Favorite bar – Clif Bar chocolate mint. It’s about the only bar I can choke down when riding. Even those tend to be too dry.
Take along food. I prefer fig bars to commercial energy bars – much cheaper, bit size, moist, taste good, what more do you need? Just toss them in a sandwich bag and put in the jersey. You can find them at a lot of convenience stores too. .I have also been known to carry pitted prunes on rides. Moist, bite size, quick energy. Don’t worry, they won’t give the runs, at least not during the ride.
Favorite drink and gel: Hammer Heed and Hammer gels. I like that they use maltodextrin (I’m not convinced fructose is a good energy sugar – it has to be processed by the liver so its not quick energy). They taste good and aren’t too sweet.
Favorite shorts – I love the way Hincapie shorts and bibs fit and feel.
Favorite jersey – I don’t know that I have a favorite but I have several that I preferentially wear that look cool or feel good. Yes, the RBR is in that category and I wear it frequently. The jerseys I tend to wear most are the ones where I have matching shorts/bibs to go with them.
Favorite shoe – I don’t have one, especially not the ones I currently use. I have wide feet and have trouble finding ones that fit. I so wish shoe companies would use the same sizing but they are all over the place.
Favorite socks – whatever pair match my kit. I don’t like clashing colors. I must match, and that includes gloves and helmets too.
Pedals: Shimano PD-6800
Helmet: Rudy Project Sindmax
Seat Bag: Shimano Pro tool carrier
Gearing (chain rings and regular cassette) – include model, teeth of rings and range of cassette: 52/34 Shimano Ultegra
Computer: Bryton 520
Tires (we’ve done this one before, but it can’t hurt to update) Performance Pro
Bib Shorts (or just shorts, in case someone doesn’t wear bibs) Whatever the team gives me.
Lights – only when its dark, we train on roads with very few cars.
Shoes – Shimano Wide R320, R321, Sphyre work best
Pedals – Look carbon blades
Repair Stand – Park, is there any other kind?
Bike (which one’s your fave, and why?) – Being a test rider, there are LOTS of great bikes out there. Cervelo R5, Cervelo S5, BH Ultralight, Trek Emonda SLR, Trek Madone, Giant TCR Advanced SL.
Jersey (do you have one from a cool shop or race that you really love?) Feel free to rock your RBR jersey, if it’s among your co-faves! That’s my personal plan. But no pressure….;-)
Sports Drink – Cytomax + a little protein powder
Gel and/or chews – none
Bar – Shimano Aluminum PRO VIBE or PLT
Stem – +/- 7 or +/- 10, Carbon wrapped Aluminum.
Other take-along foo
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.