That’s right, folks, it’s that time of year again when we announce our nominees for the Best Bike and Best Product of the Year for the Interbike Awards. Just like last year, the winners will once again be announced at a huge gala at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas during the Interbike trade show (September 15–18). And just as we did last year, we’re asking our readers to cast their own vote on what they judged to be the best upgrade product of 2015. However, unlike last year when we solicited your votes for nothing more than the joy of participating, this year we will be gifting a new pair of Pro-Lite carbon clincher wheels to a randomly selected entry. Remember, you can’t win if you don’t vote, so tell us what you think was the best road bike upgrade in 2015 that you either saw, used or just thought about, and you just might come away winning a new set of wheels. The deadline for voting is August 28, and you can cast your vote (c/o IB Awards) here: [email protected]
THE FIVE BEST BIKES THE FIVE BEST BIKES
1. Cannondale Evo Force: It was almost four years ago when Cannondale knocked our socks off with their SuperSix Evo race bike, and now, proving just how good the bike was back then, it continues to impress in a less expensive version today. The value and performance found in this sub-$4000 Cannondale proves the merits of true trickle-down technology.
2. Cervelo R2: The R2 made the list for the same reason the Cannondale did—simply another ﬁne example of trickle-down technology. Utilizing tube shapes originally developed for their RCA superbike, Cervelo’s latest entry-level R-Series bike was nicely equipped as a complete bike for the relatively low price of $2500.
3. Specialized Diverge: The Diverge wasn’t the first bike to ﬁnd its way into the ever-growing adventure road scene, where dirt and pavement are one in the same, though it is better suited than the others. It has clearance for up to 38mm tires, thru-axles with disc brakes and, best of all, a geometry that so closely feels just like your road bike.
4. Giant Defy Advanced SL: Not that we’re suspect of any bike that costs this much, but for the asking price of $10,000, you’d not only assume the Giant Defy would be a good bike, you’d expect that it should be. Topping Giant’s line of endurance road bikes, the Defy Advanced came away as a class leader in weight and performance. In addition to its impressive frame stiffness and ride-allday comfort, it’s a well-balanced bike with few limitations.
5. Alchemy Aithon: Perhaps helping take the bite out of the fact that the Alchemy knocked the Colnago C60 off our ﬁnal list, in our review of the American-made gravel bike, we alluded to its impressive fabrication and ride quality as one of the few that could equal that of Ernesto’s anniversary masterpiece. The Aithon was another indication that the small Colorado builder is a brand with a stellar future.
THE FIVE BEST PRODUCTS THE FIVE BEST PRODUCTS
1. Lazer Z1 helmet: This was another winner of a solid debate. While there were strong votes for the Giro’s Synthe, in the end, the expensive Z1 (at $270) got the nod because it simply did a superior job keeping our heads cool on hot days. We’ve always been fans of Lazer’s proprietary Rollsys retention system, which tightens the helmet around your head instead of just in the rear. We look forward to the day when Lazer moves this helmet down the line to bring its fantastic cooling (and choice of 10 colors) to a lower price point.
2. Bontrager Aeolus TLR wheels: While Bontrager can’t lay claim to creating the full-carbon tubeless road wheel, we think they have produced the best example of the category to date. Featuring the same advanced aerodynamic efﬁciency and ride quality as their Aeolus line, the Aeolus TLR wheels can run lower tire pressures for enhanced comfort and traction without fear of pinch flats. We like that the TLR wheels are available in three different depths, in both rim brake and disc brake versions.
3. SRAM Force CX1: Here’s a cyclocross-speciﬁc product that was born from SRAM’s mountain bike product line that in the end has shown merit as an all-around drivetrain solution for road and gravel riders as well. That it has now laid the evolutionary groundwork for SRAM’s 2016 Force1 road-speciﬁc drivetrain only adds to its inﬂuential nature. We love the clutch derailleur and X-Sync chainrings that help minimize the impact of even the worst bump forces that usually derail the chain.
4. Zwift: Zwift’s ability to bring together social gaming with indoor cycling made the world a whole lot smaller. Competing with and against other riders from across the globe isn’t unique to Zwift, but they’ve done it without making you buy hardware, such as a new trainer.
5. Velowurks Prime Floor Pump: Let’s face it, ﬂoor pumps are neither sexy, nor hi-tech, but few products play as important a role in our day-in-and-day-out cycling experience. Just as we noted last year when we selected the Silca ﬂoor pump for the Best in Show award, the world is full of janky plastic pumps that seldom last a whole season. The $130 Velowurks Prime got the nod due not only to its solid, consistent performance and serviceability, but also the variety of playful design elements that made it something worth admiring, which is rare for a pump.