Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Cycling

Shimano M 163

88

2015

Shimano M 163

While the Shimano M 163 offers excellent comfort, and a secure fit all around, the outsole is too flexible even for the Enduro and Trail riding it’s intended for.

Specialized Audax

92

2015

Specialized Audax

Specialized is very clear in its positioning for the Audax—it’s specifically designed for the endurance or gravel-road crowd and not necessarily for racers or casual enthusiasts. 

Scott Road Team Boa

93

2015

Scott Road Team Boa

If cost is critical, the Scott Team Boa, the lowest priced shoe in our group, is an outstanding option.

Pearl Izumi Elite RD IV

93

2015

Pearl Izumi Elite RD IV

The Elite RD IV is among the best in it’s class for lightweight stiffness. As a racing-level shoe for powerful solo efforts and climbing efficiency it rivals many higher end shoes we’ve tested. 

Giro Trans #70

93

2015

Giro Trans #70

The softest, most supple feeling shoe in the group, the Trans is also a very solid performer, and by no means simply a comfort shoe.

Louis Garneau Carbon LS-100

96

2015

Louis Garneau Carbon LS-100

The Carbon LS-100 is a rare to find shoe that truly works as well for long, event type riding and shorter more intense racing. Even though it’s one of the less expensive shoes on our list, and the lightest, it outperforms most of the others for intense training and racing purposes, and is definitely the best value at its $200 price tag.

Suunto Ambit3 Sport (Bluetooth Smart)

91

2015

Suunto Ambit3 Sport (Bluetooth Smart)

The Suunto Ambit3 is an outstanding all-around GPS training watch with well-designed, if slightly limited, cycling functions.

Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch (Bluetooth Smart)

89

2015

Polar V800 GPS Sports Watch (Bluetooth Smart)

The Polar V800 is a very well-designed Bluetooth Smart multisport watch with wide functionality between many sports, and quick, reliable GPS.

Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire (Ant+)

93

2015

Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire (Ant+)

The Garmin Fenix 3 is the first fully functioning cycling and multisport computer that’s as fitting on a bike as it is at a dinner party.

Garmin Forerunner 920xt (Ant+)

96

2015

Garmin Forerunner 920xt (Ant+)

The Garmin Forerunner 920xt is a multi-sport GPS watch that tops the other tested watches in almost every function, but it really stood out in bike-specific use.

Race Face Atlas Pedals

96

2015

Race Face Atlas Pedals

The Atlas earned applause from a variety of riders, including bike-park downhillers and cross-country bikers who typically prefer flats for technical singletrack.

Mavic Crossmax SL Pedals

91

2015

Mavic Crossmax SL Pedals

Light and trim, the carbon Crossmax SL excels on long-mileage cross-country rides and wet-weather races.

Troy Lee Designs A1 Drone Helmet

94

2015

Troy Lee Designs A1 Drone Helmet

The A1’s great achievement is that it turns full-coverage head protection into something that’s light and breathable enough for hard-charging uphill efforts.

Specialized S-Works Prevail

93

2015

Specialized S-Works Prevail

The Specialized S-Works Prevail is the helmet for helmet-haters. Its trim profile and ultralight weight make it unobtrusive in all conditions, from hot summer hammerfests to high-speed descents.

Smith Forefront

90

2015

Smith Forefront

The Forefront is a light, breezy, and comfortable helmet that is ideal for riders who value weight savings and unobtrusiveness.

POC Trabec Race MIPS

88

2015

POC Trabec Race MIPS

The POC Trabec Race MIPS is a helmet for safety. Yes, the Trabec Race offers a reasonably comfy fit and surprisingly good ventilation, but protection is its primary emphasis: a lot of technology in the Trabec claims to cushion your head better than traditional polycarbonate/foam makeups.

Lazer Z1

89

2015

Lazer Z1

The Lazer Z1 is a comfortable and well-ventilated helmet that eliminates the pressure points that are sometimes created by tension adjustments placed at the nape of the neck.

Louis Garneau Course

90

2015

Louis Garneau Course

Louis Garneau’s Course helmet proves that comfort is king.

Pearl Izumi X-Project 2.0 MTB shoe

90

2014

Pearl Izumi X-Project 2.0 MTB shoe

The Pearl Izumi X-Project 2.0 is an outstanding MTB or Cyclocross shoe, especially for serious riders who don’t want to sacrifice off-bike comfort and performance just to save some weight. 

Rudy Project Proflow

88

2014

Rudy Project Proflow

Packed with performance-enhancing features, including defining optics, a lightweight carbon chassis, and full adjustability, the Rudy Project Proflow is the most performance-minded shade I tested. 

POC DO Flow

87

2014

POC DO Flow

Engineered with lightweight performance and pure style in mind, the POC DO Flow was a strong contender in this test. I liked that these shades are a simple multi-sport sunglass that works well for running, cycling, or hiking. 

Oakley Radarlock Path

86

2014

Oakley Radarlock Path

Oakley Radarlock Path offers excellent optics in a lightweight package. With an aggressive wrapped profile, interchangeable lens system, and a lightweight design, the multi-sport Radarlock Path was one of the most performance-minded shades in this test.

Costa del Mar Harpoon

85

2014

Costa del Mar Harpoon

The Costa del Mar Harpoon is a comfortable sunglass offers excellent optics in a lightweight performance package. 

Uvex FP 3

96

2014

Uvex FP 3

With the Uvex FP3, Uvex has produced a quality helmet with a compact form, simple styling and good ventilation. 

Lazer Helium

71

2014

Lazer Helium

Lazer's Helium helmet built on the success of their Genesis helmet. Unfortunately, Lazer's valiant attempts to innovate come up a bit short.

Mavic Plasma

85

2014

Mavic Plasma

The Mavic Plasma is a strong entry into the crowded helmet market. The Plasma’s only drawback is its weight.

Giro Aeon Helmet

98

2014

Giro Aeon Helmet

The Giro Aeon is an unassuming stalwart with some of the best fit, comfort and ventilation in the business. 

Switch Vision Tenaya Extreme

85

2014

Switch Vision Tenaya Extreme

The Switch Vision Tenaya Extreme is a lightweight wrap sunglass designed with a unique magnetic interchangeable lens system that enables simple and fast lens swapping.

Spy Daft

88

2014

Spy Daft

The Daft is a lightweight, rimless performance sunglass from SPY Optic that has a wrapped shield lens design.

Smith Optics Approach Max

85

2014

Smith Optics Approach Max

The Smith Optics Approach Max is a lightweight wrap sunglass designed with an enlarged lens profile for deeper and broader coverage.

Oakley Tour de France Radarlock XL Straight Stem

86

2014

Oakley Tour de France Radarlock XL Straight Stem

The Oakley Tour de France Radarlock XL Straight Stem delivered on-the-bike performance and comfort that’s just right for cyclists, but the stiffer frame material was a bit unforgiving.

Native Eyewear Lynx

86

2014

Native Eyewear Lynx

The Native Eyewear Lynx is a lightweight performance sunglass with a wraparound shield design.

Joovy Cocoon X2

75

2013

Joovy Cocoon X2

Two-child stroller with optional attachments to convert to bike trailer and jogging stroller.

Croozer Kid Double

80

2013

Croozer Kid Double

The Croozer Double is for parents with larger kids who don’t mind pulling a large trailer and don’t plan on using it as a stroller very much.

Chariot Chinook 2

86

2013

Chariot Chinook 2

The Chinook’s quality construction and thoughtful design make it very hard to beat.

Baby Jogger POD

76

2013

Baby Jogger POD

The POD is a well made, versatile child carrier that performs all three roles—stroller, jogging stroller and bike trailer—perfectly well.

Columbia Triteca Jacket

75

2013

Columbia Triteca Jacket

Good, not great. This amalgam of three Omni-branded technologies just doesn’t have the breathability, the stretch, or the abrasion-resistance to be a solid performer in the mountains.

Mountain Hardwear Effusion Power ½ Zip

81

2013

Mountain Hardwear Effusion Power ½ Zip

Tanner Jackson puts Mountain Hardwear's Effusion Power 1/2 Zip to the test, and comes away impressed by the attention to detail.

Stio Hardscrabble Jacket

83

2013

Stio Hardscrabble Jacket

Tanner Jackson calls Stio's Hardscrabble "a winter work jacket classic."

Icebreaker Blast Jacket

69

2013

Icebreaker Blast Jacket

Tanner Jackson says the Icebreaker Blast is long on weather resistance, but isn't as sold on the level of comfort.

Nike Vision Road Machine

92

2013

Nike Vision Road Machine

We feel the Nike Vision Road Machine is the best in its class for sub-$150 sunglasses, with very good optics, comfort, and venting, and a lot of smart features typically found on higher-end shades.

Native Zodiac

87

2013

Native Zodiac

The Native Zodiac is a solid performance sunglass with high-quality optics, low weight, noticeable comfort, and a rubberized gripping system, although it has fewer bells and whistles than comparable shades.

Bolle Cervin

87

2013

Bolle Cervin

Compared to other sunglasses in its class, the Bolle Cervin is a great choice for people with smaller face shapes looking for solid value. Its standout features are its crisp optics and a comfortable fit.

Cébé Wild

79

2013

Cébé Wild

The Cébé Wild is a good multi-sport performance sunglass with a number of strong features, including a notably low weight and photochromic lenses that adjust automatically to varying light conditions. While a good value, the optics are average.

Optic Nerve Neurotoxin 2.0

78

2013

Optic Nerve Neurotoxin 2.0

The Optic Nerve Neurotoxin 2.0 packs in a lot of bang for the buck, though its overall optics  ranked lower than others in its class. For the very reasonable price, though, it comes with a number of useful features.

Bontrager Race Lite Wheels

68

2013

Bontrager Race Lite Wheels

The Race Lite wheels deserve a mixed verdict. The hubs still spin, the rims are still mostly round, they true up easily and take standard spokes. On the other hand, they’re flexy, heavy for XC, the freehub takes a moon cycle to engage, and the narrow rims don’t play nice with wider rubber.

Osprey Escapist 30

81

2013

Osprey Escapist 30

As a pack for long mountain biking trips as well as general day pack use, the Osprey Escapist is very good. The pack’s overall organization has some real bike-friendly features.

Connor Cycles Woody Scorcher 29

84

2012

Connor Cycles Woody Scorcher 29

Grant Davis finds out what it's like to ride a work of art.

SmartWool Teller Tech Tee

94

2012

SmartWool Teller Tech Tee

Powderchaser Steve loved the features SmartWool fit into their Teller Tech Tee, but it's the performance that won him over.

Craft Zero Extreme Concept

94

2012

Craft Zero Extreme Concept

The Craft Zero Extreme Concept provided one of the lightest layers we tested and especially did well in active performance activities.

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