Every year I test way more bikes, components, kits, and other gear than I have time to fully write about. So, you’ll see mention here of products that I’ve been testing for anywhere from a few weeks to almost a year, and it might be the first time you’ve seen them mentioned.

Because I’m way behind on actually writing a full review for many of them, but they’re coming. However I can’t delay giving them kudos until then, so here are the bikes, components, kit, and gear I’ve used in 2021.

These Editor’s Choice awards, along with our Buyer’s Guides and Gift Guides, are honestly some of the most fun stories we get to write all year. We can lighten up on the objectivity and go full send on the compliments. The products listed below are the ones I’ve most enjoyed riding and using this year, and I hope you enjoy reading about them. As always, I’ll start with a bit about me to put things in perspective…

ABOUT TYLER

riding mountain bikes at carvins cove trails near roanoke virginia

My rides are split evenly between drop bar and flat bar, with the former being about half road and half gravel. While I still appreciate a died-in-the-wool cyclocross bike, gravel has entirely replaced any CX racing for me, for now.

I’m still torn between the lighter weight of 40mm gravel tires and the comfort and grip of 47s – I am, after all, a weight weenie. But for road, I simply don’t ride anything narrower than 28s anymore, and often it’s 30s or 32s.

On the trails, I’ve been putting all those new gravel suspension forks to the test, but not quite ready to declare a winner (and there are some new ones coming early next year I can’t tell you about). But most days, it’s a proper mountain bike, and locally it’s mostly an XC or light trail bike…which is about all I’ve had a chance to ride this year. One, in particular, stands out, as you’ll soon see.

Mostly I’m riding for fun or “work”, but I do push it just enough to be able to finish the growing wave of 100+ mile gravel events without dying. Also, weight training, which has really improved my power and climbing, I highly recommend it.

Experience

Rolling through Portugal's countryside with Thomson Bike Tour

Rolling through Portugal’s countryside with Thomson Bike Tours. Photo: Marc Gasch

Surprisingly, despite travel only ramping up toward the end of the year, I’ve managed to have several big ride experiences that are worth sharing, but two (sorta three) stand out. First was Thomson Bike Tour’s new Gravel Tour series.

Watts and I rode along on their first-ever Portugal Gravel trip, which traverses the southern tip of the country and finishes near the coast. Bookended by a day in Lisbon to explore the city by foot, eating and drinking our way thru castles and squares, it was an epic cycling vacation.

gravel cyclists on portugals southern coast on rock overlook

The rocky southern coast of Portugal, where I definitely will go back to surf. Photo: Marc Gasch

What stood out about it was how amazingly well Thomson’s recon crew strung together 80% or more gravel and dirt roads. Considering we rode almost 300 miles over 6 days, climbing almost 25,000 feet, that’s impressive. And the few road bits we did ride were very nice, too.

It was hard. While the amenities and meals are nice, their focus is clearly on the quality of the ride, and it shows. Also, their staff are awesome. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a cycling-centric vacation that lets you explore an area from the backroads. We have a full story and video about the trip coming soon.

tyler at belgian waffle ride nc and big sugar gravel bike races

I also really enjoyed “racing” (more like participating) in the inaugural NC Belgian Waffle Ride and Big Sugar events this year. Both were about 103 miles, with about 10,000 and 8,000 feet of climbing respectively. Both were amazing, but for slightly different reasons.

BWR NC was about 70% paved, but the roads (scouted out by Gulo Composite’s team) were phenomenal. At the finish, we got a cold towel and a giant beer, and then the heavens opened and rain dumped on us. But a crazy thing happened…no one left. It’s one of very, very few races where people stuck around, had more beers, cheered on late finishers, and created a killer vibe.

Big Sugar was almost 80% gravel, and it was hard. Like, really hard. But there was a brewery stop in the middle, and our race numbers had a ticket for a free beer there. And if we wanted to burn our meal ticket, we could do it there, or save it for the finish…where our 2nd beer ticket could be redeemed. That it was combined with Outerbike, and finished in downtown Bentonville, AR, made it a great weekend and an awesome event.

MOUNTAIN BIKE

santa cruz blur xc 2021 race bike review

EDITOR’S CHOICE: Santa Cruz Blur XC
Most of my mountain biking this year has been on my own bikes, testing other components. But that doesn’t diminish in any way the fact that the new Santa Cruz Blur is a standout bike. It’s amazingly light at just 23lb 2oz (10.49kg) out of the box, in an XL size…with 2.4″ tires, remote lockout, and a dropper post!

That combination of full functionality spec and a rippin’ fast, efficient suspension design that’s surprisingly capable for having just 100mm of travel makes it an absolutely stunning bike to ride. The geo is modern, and if you need something a little more aggressive, go for the trail version with a 120mm fork and 115mm rear travel…or make your own by simply swapping out the fork and shock, the XC and TR versions share the same frame.

ROAD & GRAVEL BIKES

bmc urs lt full suspension gravel bike review ride down a mountain pass in switzerland

EDITOR’S CHOICE: BMC URS LT
Is it telling that all three of my favorite drop bar bikes this year are gravel bikes? Leading the pack is the new BMC URS LT, which took their rear micro-suspension concept and found a way to add it to the front. Except they did it completely differently, with a coil-sprung, hydraulically damped steerer tube design.

The result is a bike that looks normal but rides like nothing else. Small chatter and rain ruts? No problem. Loose over hard and chunky corners? Won’t slip. And that’s the most impressive part, the traction. Yep, it’s comfortable, too. I was able to rail the roughest corners with confidence and finish a 7 hour day feeling fresh. The ride quality is nothing short of amazing, and you can check my full URS LT review with video for more details.

fezzari shafer gravel bike with road wheels and frame bags by a street sign

EDITOR’S CHOICE: Fezzari Shafer
The all-new Fezzari Shafer is both road bike and gravel bike. Well, technically it’s a gravel bike, but of the nearly 800 miles I have on this bike so far, about half are on the pavement, and more than half of those are with it loaded down as shown above.

You can read my full Shafer review here for more, but suffice to say it’s light, comfortable, fast, and extremely versatile. I’d argue it’s also quite good looking. With enough mounts across the frame and fork to be a proper bikepacking rig, but a light enough frame to use for gravel racing or everyday group rides, it’s quite literally a quiver killer for most folks.

My pick would be the Campagnolo Ekar build because that group is freakin’ amazing and would have been called out here if Cory hadn’t already had it in his Editor’s Choice roundup last year. Just grab a lighter, aero wheelset for road riding and you’ve got everything you need for every drop bar adventure. Oh, and complete bikes start at just $2,299…seriously.

tyler riding the specialized crux worlds lightest gravel bike at maple sally

HONORABLE MENTION: Specialized Crux
The world’s lightest gravel bike? That can also fit huge tires? Yes, please! The new Specialized Crux took all the ultralight carbon layup tricks they learned with the Aethos road bike (which made my list last year) and applied it to a race-ready gravel bike. The result is a purpose-built drop bar bike that’s wicked fast and light.

There aren’t any accessory mounts, because it’s made for racing, but there are three bottle cage mounts. The handling is spot on for going fast, and it begs you to push it just a bit faster. This isn’t a Grinduro bike, but it might be the perfect SBT or Unbound bike, just swap the tires based on the course, up to 700×47 if you know it’s gonna be a bit rough. Oh, and that paint scheme…it’s gorgeous.

E-BIKES

specialized levo turbo 3 cornering hard

EDITOR’S CHOICE – eMTB: Specialized Turbo Levo
There are a lot of good e-mountain bikes out, and I have a lot of them in for long term review. What separates the Specialized Turbo Levo is that it takes a holistic, proprietary approach to the drive system. With a custom motor, custom software, and custom controls and app, it allows them (and, ultimately, you) to fine tune the way it works based on your preferences.

Need to save battery? Maximize power? Or let the software figure out how much assist to provide so you can finish with a little juice left in the battery? The Levo does that, all while demolishing rough terrain and aggressive trails…and climbs. Like all of Specialized’s e-bikes, it’s expensive, but there’s a good reason for it. Check out my full 2021 Turbo Levo review here.

bulls desert falcon e-road bike and urban evo commuter e-bike by the beach

EDITOR’S CHOICE – eRoad & Commuter: Bulls Desert Falcon EVO & Urban EVO 10 Diamond
In what’s quickly becoming an annual thing amongst friends, several families book a week at the NC coast, and some of us ride there from Greensboro. This year, we brought along a non-cyclist father/son combo thanks to loaners from Bulls Bikes. The dad rode the all-road Desert Falcon EVO e-bike, which works as both a road and gravel bike, depending on the tires.

The son rode the Urban EVO 10 Diamond, a Class 3 commuter e-bike with a rear rack, plus some rather nice grips and saddle to class it up a bit. Both used Bosch motors and Shimano drivetrains, and have swappable batteries, making it possible for both riders to have plenty of assist and still make it 80+ miles each day. Both bikes worked great, and come well-spec’d for the price. The dad enjoyed it so much he ended up buying a non-electric bike afterward and has been joining us on group rides since!

CYCLING KITS

david millar chpt3 most days cycling jersey and bibshorts review on a cyclist

EDITOR’S CHOICE – KIT: CHPT3 Most Days
David Millar’s CHPT3 clothing brand is pretty simple…there’s really just one road kit in a few colors. The Most Days Performance Jersey pairs with the Most Days Bibshort. Mix and match the colors, they all seem to work together, and you’re likely to get as many compliments as I did while wearing them. Fortunately, the substance matches the style, with an all-day comfortable chamois and just-right fit.

I do wish the jersey pockets were just a tad deeper, and the bibs require a bit of lean-over to pull them down far enough for potty breaks, but otherwise, this is an amazing kit. I even took a spill testing the new Crux and there’s but one tiny hole on the shoulder, so they’re durable, too. The leg gripper and sleeve length are just right, and overall it’s just a super comfortable kit that really is great for Most Days. Bonus points for being moderately priced, too.

MILLE GT CLIMA JACKET EVO

EDITOR’S CHOICE – JACKET: Assos Mille GT Clima Jacket Evo
The Assos Mille GT Clima Jacket Evo is a mouthful to say, but the feature set is even bigger. With windproof and highly water-resistant membrane bonded to an extremely lightweight mesh, it’s a perfect multi-season shell for any ride. It’s light, easily scrunches up small enough to cram in a jersey pocket, and the cut is just loose enough to easily get on or off while riding. A pass-thru slot allows jersey pocket access, too.

What really sets it apart are the microscopic reflective glass beads infused into the membrane, making it wildly reflective all the way around. Unlike some hi-viz jackets, Assos pulls it off with a subdued, not-too-shiny look that fits with their high-end kits. A soft collar makes it comfy even when full zipped up for more protection, too.

gore phantom cycling jacket jersey with removable sleeves

HONORABLE MENTION: Gore Phantom Jacket
This one’s quite an interesting piece. Unlike most “jackets” with removable sleeves that turn into vests, this one becomes a jersey, with mid-length sleeves underneath. The beauty of the Gore Phantom Jacket’s design is that you don’t need to wear a regular jersey underneath; just slide the arms off once you warm up and you’re all set for shoulder-season rides without overheating your core.

The body and removable sleeves are GORE-TEX Infinium with Windstopper, which is also water-resistant. It’s a slim fit that wears much more like a jersey than a jacket. There are a lot of seams, so I’d recommend pairing with bibshorts or a base layer for more comfort. The rear has three pockets, with the two outer ones being kinda narrow…which are perfect for securing a smartphone, but just a bit tricky to dig into while riding. A fourth zippered pocket stashes cash and keys safely. Reflective elements throughout help keep you visible.

duer stay dry slim performance stretch jeans shown from all angles

Not me…will update with actual photo soon.

HONORABLE MENTION – CASUAL: Duer Stay Dry Denim
I just got these and they’ve already become a staple of my wardrobe. Duer’s blend of cotton, Coolmax polyester, and Lycra makes them a truly performance pair of stretch jeans, and a biodegradable DWR coating makes them water repellant. That I can do a full squat in them without anything pulling or bunching verifies the “performance” aspect of them, but they’re also super soft and comfortable.

They come in dark blue and black, Slim and Regular fits, both with tons of sizes, and even have a full waterproof membrane version if you need something for riding in colder, wetter climates. Reflective stitching under the cuffs and at the back of the waist make you more visible at night, too.

SADDLES

fizik terra argo x3 gravel bike saddle

EDITOR’S CHOICE – GRAVEL: Fizik Terra Argo
The Fizik Terra Argo saddles now come in three varieties, and this one came on a test bike. I liked it so much I’ve called in my own for long term review on my own bikes, and I don’t anticipate taking those off anytime soon. They’re wide, with 150mm and 160mm width options that even stays a bit wide through the nose, but they don’t feel weird like some other wider wide-nosed saddles I’ve tried.

In fact, they feel amazing, thanks in large part to supremely comfortable padding and zero pressure points. But the overall shapes just works, and, while it’s not evident while riding, there must be something to their Wing Flex design. If you’ve been struggling to find a comfortable saddle for long days on rough terrain, you have to check this one out. Bonus points for starting at just $99, too!

prologo dimension age gravel bike saddle review

HONORABLE MENTION – GRAVEL: Prologo Dimension AGX
I lauded the Prologo Dimension saddle in my 2018 Editor’s Choice roundup, and it’s literally been on one of my mountain bikes ever since. Not just any one, but that same one, so I wanted to give it a nod again for being so darn durable and still very comfortable.

But, more recently, I spent those 6 days in Portugal on one as well, and need to acknowledge it here for gravel riding, too. Zero numbness or pressure points for the entire week. Watts was on one as well and, unprompted, commented on how much he liked it. It’s a bit shorter, narrower, and firmer than the Fizik, so if that’s more your speed, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

specialized-romin-evo-mirror-saddle-review.jpg

EDITOR’S CHOICE – ROAD: Specialized Romin Evo Mirror
The Power saddle has become a favorite of most people who’ve tried it, and when they introduced the 3D-printed Mirror version, it was pretty much game over. But, some people still liked a more traditional saddle shape, with a longer nose and narrower rear. So, Specialized used their spongy-yet-supportive-and-otherworldy-comfortable wonder material and printed the Romin Evo Mirror.

While I love the Power Mirror, particularly on a gravel bike thanks to its incredible cushioning and vibration damping, I’ve found that I kinda like the Romin’s shape better on my road bike. Yeah, they’re $400, but I’d be willing to bet anyone you know that’s ridden one will say it’s the best saddle they’ve ever tried…now in a traditional shape.

velo angel tt carbon fiber road bike saddle

HONORABLE MENTION – ROAD: Velo Angel TT
Velo is the world’s largest bike saddle manufacturer by a massive, monopoly-level margin. So, they know what they’re doing, but most of the time we only see their logo on budget bikes. But they make a huge range of high-end saddles, too, and with the Angel TT, it’s clear they know exactly what they’re doing.

The short-nosed “power” shaped saddle is ultra-lightweight thanks to a carbon shell and rails, but also reasonably comfortable for what it is. And that is, it’s made for riders that scoot forward and power through their rides. It’s not what I’d choose for a century or fondo, but for hammering in Sunday morning’s “A” group alpha fest, it’s just the ticket.

WHEELS

parcours ronde shallow aero road bike wheels review

EDITOR’S CHOICE – ROAD: Parcour Ronde
Want a wheelset that rolls fast and smooth, that’s agile yet stable, aerodynamic with wide tires, and comes with a lifetime warranty while being surprisingly affordable? That’s the Parcours Ronde, a shallow-depth aero wheelset with distinct front and rear aero profiles optimized for 28mm wide tires.

The rounded profile is unique, giving them a look unlike other aero wheels, making them appear shallower than their 35mm (front) and 39mm (rear) depths suggest. And the matte black finish with blacked-out graphics is a thankfully subdued look that fits almost any bike. At $1,399, they’re a bargain, or upgrade to Kogel ceramic bearings for $400 more and they’re still more affordable than most high-end wheels.

gulo composites gme30 enduro mountain bike wheels riding action for long term review

EDITOR’S CHOICE – MTB: Gulo Composites GME-30
Come for the carbon fiber spokes, stay for the ride quality. The Gulo Composites GME-30 tackled Pisgah’s rooty, rocky trails with aplomb. While they still won’t show and tell their spoke braiding process, it is done right there in the mountains of North Carolina. So it’s no wonder the wheels performed so well, Pisgah is basically their backyard.

At just 1,479g for an enduro-ready wheelset, they’re light. But the real reason I liked them was the smooth ride quality, delivered by those carbon spokes combined with a shallow (but wide) carbon rim and low 24 spoke count. Read my full Gulo GME-30 review here.

industry nine ul280 carbon ultralight xc mountain bike wheelset

HONORABLE MENTION – MTB: Industry Nine UL280 Carbon
If you’re looking for an upgrade to your XC bike, you’d be hard pressed to do better than the Industry Nine UL280 Carbon XC wheels. While there are lighter XC wheels out there, the 370g rim spools up faster and they feel lighter than their weight suggests. Not that they’re heavy…my set weighed in at just 1,489g with tape and valve stems.

With a huge 28mm internal width, their ultra-quick engaging Hydra mountain bike hubs, plus the ability to mix and match spokes and hubs in all the colors of the rainbow, they’re everything I want in a cross country wheelset.

NUTRITION

sports nutrition products for cyclists on a table

EDITOR’S CHOICE – SPORTS NUTRITION: Gnarly Hydrate and Whey Protein
It kinda takes a lot for a nutritional supplement to stand out enough to be included here, but Gnarly’s Hydrate sports drink mix and Whey Grass-fed Protein definitely do. The Hydrate formula is actually kinda low in carbs, but has a lot of magnesium and even some calcium, which I like. It works, but what I really like about it is that it actually tastes like someone just squeezed fresh tangerines in my bottle.

The Gnarly Whey Protein stands out for a few reasons. First, it’s sourced from grass-fed cows. Second, they add MCT oils (healthy fats) and Inulin & FOS (promotes healthy guts), plus enzymes to aid in digestion. Third, they switched to recyclable metal canisters, ditching the plastic tubs, and I really appreciate that. Considering how much plastic waste our country produces…every little bit helps.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Kate’s Real Food, Skratch Labs & Naked Nutrition
If you’re looking for energy bars to fuel your rides, I’ve really liked Kate’s Real Foods (not all the flavors, honestly) for their clean ingredients list and because they actually kinda satiate me.

The Skratch Crispy Rice Cakes are like adult Rice Krispy treats, basically giving you a treat for getting out to ride. The focus here is quickly digestible (and delicious) carbs, so don’t expect them to fill you up. And they do have Quinoa, so careful if you’re sensitive to that. Otherwise, they make a great mid-ride snack.

The Naked Bar (at Naked Nutrition and Amazon)is, technically, a protein bar, packing 15g of protein from grass-fed whey and almond butter. But it also has 11g fiber, 23g carbs, and 6g fat. It could use a little sea salt sprinkled on top IMO, but in terms of solid nutrition on the bike, it does the trick.

COMPONENTS

coefficient wave rr aero road bike handlebar

EDITOR’S CHOICE – ROAD HANDLEBAR: Coefficient Wave RR
The Coefficient Wave RR aero handlebar is unlike any other, using a shapely V-profile that sweeps the flats backward and integrates notches and grooves for your fingers and thumbs throughout. The result is a bar that’s simultaneously ultra comfortable and deceptively aerodynamic.

It’s not so much that the bar itself is super aero, but the way it’s shaped forces your arms and body into a more aerodynamic position, particularly if you grab it close to the center. And since your arms and body are way bigger than the bar, it produces an outsized benefit in drag reduction. It’s essentially free speed that’s also probably the most comfortable road handlebar I’ve ever used.

sr suntour auron rc2 mountain bike suspension fork review

EDITOR’S CHOICE – SUSPENSION FORK: SR Suntour Auron R2C
Other than, you know, Tom Pidcock winning an Olympic Gold Medal on an SR Suntour fork (and he’s not the first), the brand really doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Or the OEM spec. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. The SR Suntour Auron is the plushest trail fork I’ve ridden this year, right up there with the Cane Creek Helm, but maybe even just a smidge better at small bump compliance.

With this year’s air spring update on top of their already fantastic RC2 (low-speed rebound, low/high speed compression) damping cartridge, the Auron is a simply excellent and highly adjustable fork for 130mm to 160mm travel bikes. Plus, that matte gray is just kinda sexy looking, too.

gloworm g2 mountain bike lights for night riding

EDITOR’S CHOICE – BIKE LIGHTS: Gloworm XSV G2.0 
There’s a reason the Gloworm G2.0 series mountain bike lights are our best overall choice for MTB night riding. This latest edition takes everything we loved about them -swappable lens elements to customize the beam, long life, wireless remote- and made them better. The G2.0 series lets you customize output for each setting with an app, and the batteries now have LED displays to show remaining power.

The Gloworm XSV packs 3600 lumens, yet is small and light enough to wear on my helmet. The new USB-C cables make connections and charging a snap, and are still weatherproof. And the GoPro-style mounting parts make it super easy to mount to most helmets without messing with Velcro straps (though those are included, too).

hope xcr lightweight xc mtb hydraulic disc brakes

EDITOR’S CHOICE – MTB BRAKES: Hope XCR Pro – X2
With actual weights of 192g and 210g per wheel, before trimming the hose, the Hope XCR Pro brakeset is delightfully light. That’s only a couple grams lighter than the latest XTR, and they’re about the same price, so why do I like these? To be fair, I also really like Shimano’s brakes, but there are folks, myself included, that prefer a more linear feel, and that’s where the XCR brakes shine.

In fact, the braking force feels almost perfectly linear, and has a longer-than-normal pull before lock up. The result is a brake that requires a bit more lever pull to skid, but offers a massive range of modulation. There’s a lot of power when you need it, they’re just not in any rush to get there, which meant I wasn’t slowing as much as I otherwise might, helping me go faster overall. Also, they’re gorgeous, and their SRAM Matchmaker adapter is brilliant, offering perfect placement of the AXS shifters.

specialized turbo levo tire clearance

EDITOR’S CHOICE – MTB TIRES: Specialized Butcher & Eliminator Grid Trail Tires
Pulling double duty as an incredibly supportive and sturdy tread under their Levo eMTB and a shred-able all-mountain tire on my Evil Offering. On an e-Bike, the tough casing let me get away with low pressures without squirm, and the grippy rubber bit into whatever I rolled across, from soft dirt to solid rock surfaces at Kanuga bike park.

Riding them through Pisgah’s rocks and roots proved their grip was undeniably good under a human-powered bike, too. While they’re a bit heavy for those hour-long climbs that NC’s Blue Ridge Mountains are (in)famous for, they make up for it on the chunky, rocky descents where lesser tires get sliced and shredded. If you need a tough tire for trail to enduro, the Specialized Butcher and Eliminator T7/9 tires won’t disappoint. Read my full review inside the Turbo Levo bike review.

TOOLS & GEAR

oneup components edc mini pump with integrated tool and co2 chuck

EDITOR’S CHOICE: OneUp EDC Pump & EDC Multitool
Combine a high volume, MTB-specific all-aluminum mini pump (that also works great for gravel tires, BTW) with a 9-function mini tool in a rattle-free combo unit that mounts to your frame and slides far enough over the valve stem that you don’t have to worry about snapping off the tip. That’s the OneUp EDC system, and it’s fantastic.

The OneUp EDC Pump comes with an integrated CO2 chuck in the head; just thread it out and attach the cartridge. Store that inside the pump and there’s still room for their ECD Multitool, which snaps securely into the storage capsule. The pump itself is no slouch, especially if you opt for the larger 100cc model, which actually inflates proper mountain bike tires in a reasonable amount of time.

osprey syncro 20 hydration pack review

EDITOR’S CHOICE – HYDRATION PACK: Osprey Syncro 20
The Osprey Syncro 20 is their largest mountain bike hydration pack, yet it’s extremely lightweight. Which is remarkable considering how many features it packs in, from a rain cover to helmet holder, tons of pockets and sleeves and internal organization, and even a dedicated reservoir chamber.

This is my go-to pack when we’re headed out for photo shoots as I can fit my Sony A7S III in a hard case, plus a couple of GoPros, all the mounts, phone, snacks, tool, pump, shock pump, and a 3L reservoir. Thanks to their wing-shaped shoulder harness, chest- and waist straps, and upper- and lower compression straps on the sides, the whole thing stays stable even over jumps, drops and whoops, too.

And the separated AirSpeed back panel keeps the pack from resting directly on my jersey and making a sweaty mess. Bonus points for securely holding a GoPro with MaxGrip Tripod handle in the side pockets, captured by the side compression straps, making it quickly accessible. If you carry a lot of stuff, this pack is definitely worth a look.

OFF THE BIKE

fellows ode brew coffee grinder review and allett rfid wallet review

The Allet Hybrid Card Wallet combines a Nappa leather and three internal card sleeves plus a micro-pen slot into a slim profile that also has RFID protection. I love how slim it is, yet still able to carry several credit cards, cash, ID and the requisite Costco membership and health insurance cards.

So, I wanted to try Loom’s Waterproof Sneakers because they use a Merino wool lining, waterproof knit exterior, ultralight foam cushioning, and claim to be eco-friendly and cruelty-free. But, their sizing is off by about one full U.S. size, so the 13 fit like a 12, and my toes crammed against the front.

So I gave them to my teenage son, who pretty much destroys shoes by climbing on stuff, riding to school every day, and otherwise just being a teenager who wears the same shoes every day until they fall apart. These have outlasted anything else he’s owned and, many months later, still look almost new. And he says they’re very comfortable. They’re great, just size up (regardless of what their sizing chart says, trust me).

The Fellow Ode Brew Grinder replaced my old, perfectly functional but deafening burr grinder because I was tired of having to wrap several towels around it every morning to avoid waking the fam. Not only is the Ode Brew Grinder much, much quieter, it’s also unfathomably fast. A full pot’s worth of beans grinds in just a few seconds. It does fling a few grinds as you remove the cup (thanks, static electricity), and it’s expensive, but it’s worth the peace, quiet, and simplicity.

If I have to say anything more about the Benchmade 535-3 Bugout EDC pocket knife other than that the handle is milled carbon fiber, it’s probably not worth explaining why I love this thing so much. It’s made in the USA, has an S90V steel blade that’s plenty sharp, and…the handle is carbon fiber.

…and then there’s NFTs

tylers nft collection

Just some of my NFTS. Clockwise from top left: Blockchain Badlands, Rebel Rabbits, Blockchain Billionaires, Foxy Fam, Wobblebug, and MetaTravellers. I regret nothing!

If I haven’t lost you yet, I wanna share one more experience that I’m stoked on from this year. And I intentionally buried this down here because many of you are probably going to roll your eyes and check out after the next 5 words: I’ve totally gotten into NFTs.

Still here?

Let me explain why diving headfirst into crypto and NFT has been an amazing experience. First, because it’s been simply fascinating to learn about not just where it’s been, but where these things are headed and how they will 100% guaranteed impact your life in the very near future, whether you like it or not. Everything from music to gaming to sports will see some aspect of their industries upended by blockchain technology.

Right about now you’re either nodding in agreement or you think I’m an idiot, so let me explain the second reason this has been (and continues to be) an amazing experience: The community.

If that sounds trite, then you’re not into it yet, or you haven’t found the right project. The good NFT projects aren’t about the art (because, yes, I know, you can right-click that JPG and now you “own” it, too… Sure, whatever). They’re about the community they build around the project and the real-world utility they offer. And THAT is where these things start getting really, really interesting.

Third, and I never thought I’d say this, they’ve made Twitter fun again. Not the watching-a-dumpster-fire-burn-out-of-control kind of fun, either. Fun because the NFT community as a whole is massively friendly and supportive in ways regular Twitter definitely is not. We build each other up, not tear everyone down. It’s like a parallel universe of nice people. Follow me and you’ll see.

So, what’s the cycling tie-in? I promise, this isn’t a shill, you can absolutely ignore this if you want. But I, along with three other cycling industry nerds, have launched Bike Club NFT. Zach was kind enough to cover it here. I’m beyond excited about it, and I hope you will be, too. This is a totally separate project from Bikerumor, so this is the only time I’ll mention it here, but I hope you’ll check it out.

I’ll finish with this: The support we’ve received from both industry and riders has been amazing, and it’s introduced me to incredible people that, even as the founder of Bikerumor, I’d likely have never met, and that is a big part of why this such an amazing new experience.

(Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere, I’m still deeply and gratefully involved in Bikerumor and have been working very hard behind the scenes with our new owners to turn things up a notch here…but that’s a whole ‘nother experience, and a story for another time!)

Here’s hoping you and yours have a wonderful holiday season, making your own experiences and planning for new ones! As always, thank you for reading Bikerumor!

Many more great products have passed through our hands this year, but this collection highlights the best I’ve seen or ridden. Full disclosure: Each of these products has been chosen purely on their performance and/or technological merits for the reasons described above. Under no circumstances were any of our selections paid for by their producers. Nor was any preference or favor given to advertisers or brands who bring us on trips. Our selections are for the most part (but not exclusively) limited to products that we’ve actually spent time riding/testing in person. So, a brand’s willingness to invite Bikerumor to join a launch event, or to provide product samples, does make it more likely that we will have considered their products simply because we’ve had a chance to try them first hand.

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Patrick
Patrick
5 months ago

I kept thinking about how much I think we could get along more and more getting to the end of the list. Really cool stuff

Two questions:

1) Can you give some insight into Duer sizing? I have looked at them a few times, but I don’t think they give much insight into real world sizing. Sometimes it seems like cyclists are choosing tight thigh fit for half decent waist fit or breathing room in the thighs for a baggy lower fit.

2) How’s the grind for pour over and drip on your Ode? Even the upgraded burrs on my Encore seem to produce too many fines for really clean brews, but it seems like the next step up is crazy money.

Michael
Michael
5 months ago

To get rid of the static/clinging chaff from your coffee grounds, just sprinkle a few drops of water over the beans in the hopper before you grind. Makes a HUGE difference! Cheers!