Iain Treloar takes a look back at the best products Ride On has come across this year.
In the bi-monthly rush to deadlines, we rarely get a chance to step back and assess a year as a whole. Taken in its entirety, 2013 has seen Ride On test and rate 68 bikes, conduct our annual locks and lights tests, and put 26 products through their paces in extended reviews – all in addition to major comparative tests of gloves, mirrors, bags and clothing.
As we work towards our first issue of 2014, it’s fitting that we also take a moment to highlight the products from 2013 that we remember with fondness, items we’ve bought that have shown greater depth than our initial assessment might have suggested, and things that have over time grown to be indispensable.
Parts and accessories
Crud Road Racer Mk2 Mudguards
- We said – “A clever solution that overcomes a difficult problem”
At the time of reviewing, we lamented the slightly harrowing installation process but acknowledged Crud’s ingenuity in coming up with a road bike-friendly mudguard. Now that they’re fitted to my commuter and have gotten me through an entire winter, they’re not coming off. In a tetchy climate like Melbourne’s, the Crud Road Racers have transformed my riding experience, enabling me to commute in my work clothes without worrying about whether I’ll still look presentable at the other end.
Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit D-lock
- We said – “We’ve been looking forward to testing the brilliantly named New York Fahgettaboudit – and it didn’t disappoint”
The only lock to score a perfect 10 in the 2013 Ride On locks test, the Fahgettaboudit is a weighty but formidable lock. The shackle was strong enough to resist a metal-bladed angle grinder for more than two minutes, and still wouldn’t release a bike without repeating the process on the other side of the shackle. What does this lock tell a would-be bike thief? Fahgettaboudit.
Cassons (02) 8892 1900
Lezyne Alloy Floor Drive
- We said – “A superb floor pump that more than justifies the expense”
Although it’s a bit pricier than others on the market, it’s difficult to improve on the Alloy Floor Drive, and it’s since become one of the most indispensable tools at Ride On’s disposal. Durable, good looking and intelligently designed, this pump is here for the long haul and brings a touch of luxury to the mundane act of tyre inflation.
Moon Mask / Moon Shield light
‘Best in Test’ compact front and rear in Ride On’s annual lights test for the last two years running, the Moon Mask and Shield are feathery light, USB rechargeable and punch out a massive amount of light for their size. For commuting use, they’re the light to beat.
Park Tools PCS-10 Home Mechanic Repair Stand
- We said – “A tough and thoughtfully designed repair stand that’ll last and last”
A good repair stand is a joy to use, and after putting up with a terrible one for too long, the arrival of the Park Tools PCS-10 in the office was a happy event. With a thoughtful design and outstanding ease of use, the PCS-10 gets a big tick of approval.
Bontrager AW3 Hard-Case Lite tyres
- We said – “They’re a quick-rolling, low-profile tyre – and as for punctures? Halfway through winter, so far so good”
It’s difficult to be sure how much of a tyre’s puncture resistance can be attributed to the product or to sheer dumb luck, but with zero punctures in six months, through a very wet winter, I’m pretty impressed. Although they’re marketed as an Autumn/Winter training tyre, they’re light enough and fast enough that I’ll be content to leave them on the bike year round. I used to be a Gatorskin man, but not any longer.
Rapha Transfer Jacket
- We said – “When describing the jacket to people, I took to referring to it as ‘like wearing a hug’. It’s not cheap, but it’s the sort of item of clothing that makes you feel pampered every time you have it on”
Quite simply, my favourite single item of clothing. When I was away working on the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride, this was an essential piece of kit for cold starts and late nights, and managed to ward the chill off when the wind started to bite. And it looks good too!
Serfas RX short finger women’s gloves
- We said – “High quality, well designed glove for the everyday rider”
Winner of Best in Test and Best Value in our comprehensive summer glove test, our reviewer praised the firm gel padding in key areas, breathability and smart design of these fantastic women’s gloves.
Endura Luminite 2013 Jacket
- We said – “A jacket equal to any storm”
Available in a couple of colours, including the popular fluoro yellow, the Endura Luminite incorporates a wealth of reflective material, as well as an integrated LED light on the small of the back. With totally waterproof material and sealed seams, it’s a jacket to rely on – no matter how filthy the weather.
Kask Mojito helmet
- We said – “A classy, lightweight and comfortable helmet, with Tour-winning credentials”
A favourite of quite a few of us in the office, the Mojito is extremely comfortable and also manages to look pretty sharp. With a compact profile, it’s less visually jarring than most of its rivals, has a detail-oriented aesthetic and goes virtually unnoticed on the head. A high-water mark for road helmets.
Two Wheel Cool silicone toe caps
- We said – “They do a great job at keeping the chill and wet off toes”
An ingenious silicone toe cover from Sydney-based Two Wheel Cool, these are a really funky item. Available in a range of fun colours, they’re lightweight and highly effective. More fun still – you can clean them by putting them in the dishwasher. There’s something that really tickles me about that.
Chrome Mini Metro messenger bag
- We said – “It’s positively Tardis-like… looks good and seems completely bulletproof”
The Chrome Mini Metro wasn’t rated near the top of our bag review of a year ago, but having put it through its paces over a long period, there’s a lot that I’ve come to appreciate. Even in the most ferocious downpour, you can be sure your stuff will stay dry, and it’s extremely comfortable – it’s a completely worry-free, no-fuss bag and I’d absolutely buy it again. Not that I’ll need to – it’s showing virtually no wear after a year of daily use.
Focus Mares CX 4.0
- We said – “Just looking at it makes you happy”
There are bikes you ride and appreciate, and there are bikes that cause your heart to go pitter-pat and incite stirring emotions. The Mares is firmly in the latter category. When asking around the office for their nominations for this list, this bike was front and centre in the minds of most. Part of that is its jaw-droppingly awesome colour scheme, but it was also amazing to ride and was a clear stand-out in our seven bike cyclocross test. I genuinely miss this bike now it’s gone.
Rikulau 931 Ultegra
- We said – “A beautifully performing, comfortable and drop-dead gorgeous modern steel road bike”
I was quite happy with my old road bike, until the Rikulau turned up and ruined it for me. We were lucky enough to be able to hold onto this for a couple of months, and it didn’t skip a beat. Constructed from Reynolds 931 stainless steel, it merged the best of the old and the new, with a lovely ride quality and precise handling. I loved it so much that I ended up buying a customised version of its titanium sister-model, which bafflingly manages to be even better. Rikulau may be obscure, but they’re a brand that deserves to be high up your list of future bikes to consider.
Ordica Classic eBike
- We said – “A latest generation e-bike that is also outstanding value”
It’s easy to drop a fair wad of cash on an electric bike, but the Ordica Classic brings a lot of the quality and refinement of its more expensive competitors to a considerably lower price-point. With thoughtful design touches, and fully accessorised for commuting, it was a deserving recipient of a 92% review score in our comprehensive e-bike test.
- We said – “A perfect blend of style and practicality”
In our test of four stylish ladies bikes, the TokyoBike was a stand-out, leading our reviewer to remark that her relationship with the bike “became a full-blown love affair”. With a clean but classy look and a sublime ride, the Bisou combined form and function into a pretty little package. In another case of us putting our money where our mouth is, Margot ended up buying one for herself and falls in love a little more every day.
InsigniaWorks head badge
- We said – “A genuinely beautiful way to add a touch of personal flair to your bike”
I’ve long-lamented the dying art of the head badge, so was thrilled to discover the Etsy page of InsigniaWorks. With the help of Ride On’s wonderful graphic designer, I was able to get a beautifully detailed, very special head badge which completes the look of my beautifully detailed, very special new road bike. With a reasonable price-tag and great customer service, the purchase of this headbadge was a pleasure from start to finish, with an outcome beyond my wildest bike-centric dreams.
- We said – “Brings the party to a bike ride – get lit up for your next celebration”
Attaching to the spokes and hubs of any bike, Monkey Lights use colour LEDs and pre-programmed themes to display patterns and pictures as your wheels spin. We’re fond of any item that injects a bit of childlike enthusiasm into bike riding, and these certainly do that. Very very cool.
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