Despite all the new cycling products that flow through the well-lit, plush carpeted RBA office, there remains a handful that RBA editors have held on to over the years – a veritable basket of collectibles – here’s a look at what’s inside those baskets.
Mavic Huez shoes: Believe it or not, there actually was a time when cycling shoes didn’t rely on a dial closure to get snug. There was this funny material called Velcro back in the day that was attached to these things called straps and—voila!—they worked like a charm. Mavic’s lightweight, 368-gram Huez (per pair) was my favorite example, and I keep them around for hot summer days. Unlike the Giro TechLace, the Huez still feels like you’re wearing shoes and not slippers.
Crankbrothers Candy pedals: Owing to their medium-sized platform and super-consistent entry/release, like Troy, I, too, am a fan of Time ATAC pedals. But that was back in my mountain bike days. For the last four years, whether it’s been banging shoulders in a local cyclocross race or a solo pursuit at Dirty Kanza, I’ve relied on this set of Candy pedals. The heart of the pedals is the same simple, winged cleat that they use on all their clipless pedals. The 6061 aluminum body provides the extra platform that their standard Eggbeaters don’t. Oh, yeah, I also love the red! They’re available in a wide price range, starting at $60 all the way up to $450.
Mavic Altium vest: I’ve lost and misplaced this vest more times than I care to remember, but luckily, I’ve always been able to find it crumpled up in some small reach of my luggage. From Levi’s King Ridge GranFondo in NorCal and Dirty Kanza in Kansas to L’Eroica in Tuscany, the lightweight Altium has been the perfect companion for keeping me warm on those longs days in the saddle that start out cold, while also being so lightweight that it’s easily stowed when things eventually heat up.
Wahoo Elemnt: When it comes to this current generation of gadgets and plug-ins, I remain a happy Luddite who eschews as many battery-operated gizmos as possible. I don’t have any power meters, and I know when my heart is ready to explode. However, given that participating in—let alone finishing—Dirty Kanza requires a GPS, I had to give in three years ago. So up to the start line I rolled with a Wahoo Elemnt—simple to use, easy to read (with adjustable display size). Best of all (for the people I ride with) is that I don’t have to pester them by asking how many miles we’ve ridden or how fast we’re pedaling.
Campagnolo Big corkscrew: Shamefully, I have to admit that in my first decade traveling to Italy as a cycling journo, I shied away from imbibing the country’s famous grape juice. It wasn’t until I enjoyed a dinner with Fausto Pinarello at one of his favorite restaurants in Treviso that, at his insistence, I learned something about drinking and savoring wine. Bam—hook, line and sinker! In keeping the Italian spirit alive, as soon as I got home I got my hands on a Big One bottle opener that was designed in 1966 by none other than Tullio Campagnolo himself.
Louis Garneau Course Speedzone vest: Nearly anywhere I have ridden, a vest is an essential piece that I always pack. In 2012 when I found the Course Speedzone vest, I knew I had a winner. Apart from its quality fabrication and race-oriented fit, the big feature for me was that it has a big opening in the back. It looks funny, but getting to your jersey pockets is no issue. There’s no need to unzip or try and adjust the vest so you can get to your pockets. It was so perfect that, after two months, I purchased another as a backup or in case I misplaced it.
Mio Link: This is an optical heart rate monitor that I’ve used since 2014. Although designed to be used as a wrist strap, I removed the monitor from the wristband and slid it under my bib shorts and positioned it on my thigh. How does it work? The unit uses optical light sensors to view down into your capillaries to provide your heart rate. It is rechargeable and has a power button, so as soon as you turn it on, it pairs with your cycling computer. The only two downsides are that it uses a proprietary charger, and battery life is around eight hours, so it’s not ideal for Dirty Kanza and longer events.
Genuine Innovations Second Wind Road pump: Basically, a combination of a CO2 air chuck and a high-pressure pump. It doesn’t have any removable hoses or parts to break. It literally just works while being compact and light. I have used plenty of pumps over the years, but this one seems to find itself on my bike because it has never let me down.
Oakley Radar Path photochromic sunglasses: I think it was in 2004–2005 when I got my first pair of photochromic Oakleys, and I believe they were Transition lenses. Between commuting and finding time to train, I frequently ride a lot at night, so the ability to have one pair of glasses that could be used all day has been perfect. I have had a set of the Radar -framed glasses since 2008. I still prefer them over the newer versions and use them on nearly every ride.
Swiftwick Aspire socks: While socks seem like a silly thing to cherish, my Swiftwick socks are a staple. Their quality and durability are unmatched. I still have the original pair from 2009. It is hard to explain, but Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo rider) said it best: “These are the only socks I need. I just wish my team kit included them.”
Pedro’s tire lever: The tire lever is a cyclist’s best friend, and there are countless to choose from on the market. When I found the Pedro’s levers six years ago, I was sold. They are wide enough to support heavy leverage and slide smooth along the rim. They might fade in color, but they don’t fade in reliability.
Time ATAC Carbon pedals: I purchased these back in late 2000. These were a special-edition model to celebrate Miguel Martinez using them to win the XC Olympics and World Championship that year. They were expensive back then ($200), and I used the money earned from mowing lawns in junior high to pay for them. Eighteen years later, they still work flawlessly. Maybe it’s the years of break-in and familiarity, but the ATACs have been the most solid and worthwhile component purchase I’ve ever made.
Mavic Altium jacket: Granted, I live in Southern California, so my rain jackets don’t exactly get a ton of use. Still, I’ve had a lot of jackets come and go through my closet, and only one has stayed more than a year or two. Mavic’s Altium jacket has been with me since 2009. After nearly a decade, it’s still waterproof and light enough to ball up into a pocket. Plenty of new bikes have come and gone, but that jacket has remained timeless.
Specialized Romin saddle: I now have three well-worn Romins that fit me like a glove and get used on every bike I ride, since it’s the only saddle that I feel truly fits me. They might not look that pretty anymore since each has tens of thousands of miles on it, but when it comes to such an important contact patch with the bike, it’s not the looks that are important.
King Cage: I purchased two King Cages for around $50 each. At the time that was a lot of money, but I needed a lightweight yet durable cage that I could be sure wouldn’t lose a bottle. Fifteen years later and the tubular titanium cages still look as good as the day I bought them, and I have yet to have a bottle bounce out. In the carbon age, the King Cages look like even more of a bargain considering they have only gone up about $10 over all those years, and very well could be the last water bottle cages I ever buy.
Shimano Ultegra 6700 pedals: Around 2010 the 6700s were the first Ultegra-level pedal to upgrade to a wider platform like the higher-end Dura-Ace 7800s. I got these as a hand-me-down from my uncle Ed. I still swap them between all the test bikes or whichever bike I may be riding. Having a familiar set of pedals keeps me comfortable on an unfamiliar bike. I encourage everyone to find a pair they like and stick to it—just don’t forget to keep them greased!
2009 Mavic Ultimate Cosmic Carbone SLR: Just before I raced my first criterium seven years ago, I got these (as another hand-me-down from uncle Ed) as my first set of race wheels. At 1604 grams, they were lighter and more aerodynamic than anything else I had ridden before. They didn’t help me win that race, but they did make me feel fast. If it wasn’t for the backlog of wheel tests now in my lap, I’d still be spinning these in my next crit.
Pro, the movie: Directed by former racer Jamie Paolinetti, Pro was the follow-up film to The Hard Road and centered around the 2004 U.S. pro cycling road racing championships held in Philadelphia. The action and intensity of the race and the racers got me hooked on road racing. Full of interviews with the best riders at the time, like Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Freddie Rodriguez and more, for me, Pro is to road racing what On Any Sunday is to motocross or The Endless Summer is
Kask Protone: The Protone has been my helmet of choice since stepping away from racing, and I’ve gone through a few of them. When I’m not testing out new helmets, I’ll always be wearing the Kask. The great ventilation and leather chin strap are two of my favorite features. Oh yeah, it’s also the best-looking helmet on the market.
Fizik Antares: As we all know, saddle preference is a pretty personal choice. There have been times when I’ve jumped on a new saddle and pedaled less than 10 feet before knowing that it didn’t work for me. Since 2014, my go-to saddle has been the Fizik Antares R1. What made the saddle even better was when Fizik offered it in their custom color program. Although the oversized 9mm carbon rails only work on some seatposts, I also have an R3 version with 7mm rails that can work on all the other seatposts.
Shimano Ultegra pedals: From all the test bike swapping that we do, I’m always sure to swap out my Ultegra pedals from bike to bike. Comfort and consistency are the features that stand out. Even on my local gravel rides, which are basically on hard-packed dirt roads, I use my road pedals, as there is minimal unclipping with little to no mud.
Wahoo Elemnt: From testing new products to riding with sponsor-correct gadgets during my racing years, I’ve used a few different computers during my days as a pedal-pusher. In my last season racing with Holowesko-Citadel (2016) we were sponsored by Wahoo, who first introduced me to the Elemnt, which I quickly grew fond of. Fast-forward to riding Dirty Kanza last year where GPS mapping is required and the Wahoo proved up to the job. Probably my favorite part of the Wahoo is how easily it can be set up by the app on your phone and the long-lasting battery.
Specialized Rib Cage II: This may sound like a small and perhaps unimportant accessory, but there’s nothing worse than buying a fancy $50-plus carbon cage only to hit a small bump on the road and watch your bottle rocket into the unknown. These cages are my go-to for both road and gravel riding. They keep my bottles tight, have a nice look to them and only cost $25.