Whether you spend most of your waking hours in spandex or just enjoy cruising around town on two wheels, the holidays are the perfect time for gear upgrades. If you're angling for a new bike entirely, we have our favorite 2017 models for every kind of riding. But if you're just looking for a few stocking stuffers, well, we've got some of those, too.
Most cycling rain jackets are thick and poorly ventilated, leaving us as wet from sweat as if we braved the elements alone. The One Active jacket is among the few worth wearing, whether you're commuting or riding a century. When the clouds clear, this featherweight Gore-Tex jacket shakes dry and can stuff down into a pocket. But when you're wearing it, you'll stay comfortably warm and impressively dry.
Bontrager's Solstice helmet integrates MIPS technology that's typically only available on lids costing at least twice as much. MIPS, Multi-directional Impact Protection System, helps protect against brain injuries in a crash by adding a layer between your head and the foam. This lets the helmet slide (slightly) around your head and absorb rotational forces that can cause a concussion.
Your shorts are the most important piece of cycling apparel and the first item to splurge on. Simply, no other piece of clothing can impact your comfort as much as the one you're sitting on. The Total Comfort's three-layered chamois supports your sit bones without feeling too thick and the flatlock stitching ensures the seems never rub your skin the wrong way.
Bike pumps are one of the least reliable cycling tools we test, but Fabric's high-volume Stratosphere has been unimpeachable after several months of use at the Seniorhelpline office. The large dial is easy to read while you're pumping away, and the pump head fits both valve types.
These low-profile sneakers are ideal for commuting, beer runs, and any ride where you don't want to clip into pedals. The footbed manages to feel stiff and efficient while you're spinning, but you wouldn't guess it's a cycling shoe when you're walking around. The waterproof toecap protects your feet from puddles and hidden reflective patches on the heel and side raise your visibility at night.
These road shoes balance comfort and speed by pairing a light, stiff carbon fiber sole with heat-moldable arch support that provides a custom fit. Air vents around the toebox and heel keep your feet dry in sweaty conditions. These features combine for a Tour de France-worthy shoe at a fraction of a pro-level price.
Never get caught without tools if your bike breaks down. This simple multi-tool mounts under your bottle cage, so that it's always on your frame — just like that winter emergency kit you've been meaning to put in your trunk. Fix It Sticks come with four tools, but there are six configurations to fit your needs. The mountain biking set, for example, includes a T-25 torx bit for disc brake rotors.
Your body only s the bike at the pedals, saddle, and handlebars, making gloves the most affordable way to boost ride comfort. Gel and foam padding absorb road bumps and vibrations, while the silicon coating provides ample grip. The back of the hand is sweat-wicking mesh and the thumb includes an absorbent patch for wiping away sweat and snot.
The most uncomfortable way to end a ride is with saddle sores. Prevent skin irritation on your most sensitive and vulnerable areas with a pre-ride dab of Mad Alchemy's chamois cream. Think of it like cycling-specific BodyGlide and apply directly to your skin, not your shorts' pad.
This simple, made-in-the-USA bike cage will likely outlive your water bottle, your bike, and possibly you. Formed from 302 stainless in Durango, Colorado, this cage weighs a mere 48 grams and will always hold your bottles snug.
Continental's Gator Hardshells don't come cheap for tires, but consider the extra cash an insurance policy against flats. We've never tested a bike tire that offers such incredible puncture resistance (you can ride over glass without a worry) that also performs like a race tire. This comes courtesy Continental's DuraSkin, which protects the sidewalls, and nearly impervious PolyX Breaker layer that runs under the tread.
Simply put, the Cervelo R2 is the best value on the road. The most recent addition to the Canadian bike brand's R series — which has been ridden to victory in nearly every major road race — the R2 offers a carbon fiber frame paired with Shimano's workhorse 105 components. Like the other R series bikes, it combines power and efficiency with road-damping comfort. Take it to a race, a group ride, or just around the block.
If your ultimate goal is to have more fun on the trails, the Specialized Fuse is your bike. It features wider than average 3-inch tires that offer better cornering, control, and stability. And the lightweight A1 aluminum frame ensures a quick and nimble ride. The Fuse Sport is outfitted with hydraulic disc brakes for superior stopping power, a single front chainring to simplify the drivetrain, and Suntour suspension fork (with lockout) to smooth rough trails.
Diamondback's Haanjo was designed to tackle dirt and gravel roads, but the features that make it excell off pavement also make it a great all around bike. The frame geometry is optimized for comfortable rides and improved stability, while the tire clearance lets you run road slicks or knobby tires for light trails.
Priority builds bikes that are practically maintenance free so that they're always ready to ride. The Continuum features hydraulic brakes and an internal, seamlessly shifting rear hub — both of which may never need adjustment — and a carbon belt drive, which lasts twice as long as a chain and doesn't require oil. Fenders protect you from wet roads and the aluminum frame keeps the weight down.
You won't find a better all-around helmet than the Centric Plus. Built for both road and trail riding, it optimizes the delicate balance of aerodynamics, cooling, and safety. The venting and reduced drag come from a wind tunnel-tested design that maximizes air flow both over and through the helmet. And unlike most lids, the Centric Plus features a MIPS liner, which helps reduce brain injury during a hard crash.
There's an endless supply of ugly bike jerseys, but they're not coming from Twin Six. The Minneapolis-based design studio is on a mission to make cycling apparel that doesn't turn you into a Lycra cartoon or brand billboard. The Hot Wire is a favorite for its sharp, distinctive print and soft polyester microfiber fabric.
Bike shorts are the first piece of apparel you should splurge on for a more comfortable ride. Castelli's Endurance X2 bibs are designed to be ridden from dawn to dusk. They fit to your body with an impressive eight-panel construction, but the real highlight is Castelli's Progetto X2 Air seat pad. The seamless chamois offers four-way stretch to contour to your body, variable density foam to provide support where you need it most, and airflow channels to aid evaporation to keep you dry.