Geared Up: Cyclists' Travel Guide Edition

Kitsbow Icon Flannel, $195

It’s embarrassing how much I like this absurdly expensive shirt. Made from Pendleton wool and Schoeller panels, it’s some kind of perfect hipster-tech apparel alchemy. Looks great on bike or bar stool, etc., etc., but it’s the vented, articulated shoulders that make cold-weather riding in this thing a pleasure. It also has the best non-jersey sleeves out there, and there’s not a close second. Only downsides (besides the cost)? The snaps on the body and cuffs pop a bit too easily, and the wool is itchy right out of the box. Two hundred bucks for a flannel seems insane — and maybe it is — but this is a helluva shirt. -AS

WTB Horizon Tires, $68

WTB introduced the Horizon last year as a “Road Plus” tire — 47mm wide mounted on 650b rims with the same overall diameter as a standard 700c wheel with a 23mm tire. Another tire standard? Yeah, it’s worth it. The Horizons are plush thanks to supple sidewalls, they’re fast-rolling, and boy do those skinwalls looks nice. On the Soma Wolverine, where they rolled until the snow started (they are a profoundly bad snow tire, though surprisingly predictable on dirt despite the lack of tread), the ride was noticeably improved with and without a load, and clearance was no issue. Nor was finding wheels thanks to the Soma’s mountain bike dropout spacing. The same might not be said for bikes with road spacing, so consider the cost and hassle of a new wheelset before you buy, but for touring cyclists I’d say Road Plus is a quantum leap forward. -AS

Julbo Aerolite glasses, $190 

Well known in the mountaineering world, French sunglasses manufacturer Julbo also produces a great line of eyewear suitable for cycling. The Aerolite is very similar to the Aero model, but rids itself of the frame segment above the lens. This saves weight and ensures that the frame is never in your line of sight. It’s also a good model for riders with narrower faces. We tested Julbo’s Zebra photochromic anti-fog, lenses and they worked well in low light and direct sunlight, automatically adjusting their tint based on ambient conditions. Excellent optics and a gossamer weight make the Aerolites a great pair of sunglasses for mountain biking and road riding. -NL

Elite Corsa MTB 950ml water bottles, $10 

You may have to search a little to find these bottles, with your best bet being a quick internet query, but the ability to carry nearly a liter of water in each cage is hard to beat. Elite’s Corsa MTB is BPA-free and biodegradable. It also comes with a removable cover for the drink nozzle, so you can drink with fewer worries when encountering agricultural areas. (The standard Corsa bottle doesn’t have the nozzle cover.) Also available in 550 and 750ml sizes, all of them fit inside a standard bottle cage. If you decide to go with the liter size, be sure that you have a set of strong cages as you’re asking a bit more of them with so much volume. If you ride in hot and/or remote areas, Elite’s Corsa MTB 950ml bottle is sure to help keep you topped off with fluids. -NL

Cane Creek ViscoSet, $80

Sold as an upper half of a headset, Cane Creek’s new ViscoSet has a built-in steerer damper. Intended for high-speed mountain biking and touring bikes, the ViscoSet has adjustable friction to help stabilize a loaded bike. Installed on a bike that had a wobble problem, the ViscoSet brought new confidence to no-handed riding after a few adjustments. Using a series of friction plates stacked between slicker plates, the damping level is changed by swapping the order of plates. It’s amazingly effective. Dialing it up to full damping is likely to be more than most road-going bikes will need, but somewhere between mid-level and a tad lower, the bike in question became more stable than ever while still reacting quickly to rider input. If you have a bike with problematic handling, give the ViscoSet a go. -NL

Mavic Crossmax Pro 29” mountain bike wheels, $1,099

While Mavic intends its Crossmax Pro wheelset for mountain biking, they are also at home on gravel or disc brake touring bikes thanks to strong construction and modular hubs that will work with both thru-axles and quick releases. We tested the Boost model with wider hub spacing and put them through their paces on rocky trails in Colorado. Included in the price of the Crossmax wheels is a pair of Mavic’s Pulse Pro tubeless tires. The 2.25in. width offers good traction while still rolling quickly, as you’d expect from a cross-country tire. They also set up tubeless easily with the included tubeless valves and sealant. Handily, they ship with a pair of tubes installed. Built-in spares! 

The construction of the Crossmax Pro is all aluminum with one small exception. The UST Tubeless Ready 22mm internal rims are aluminum, and so too are the spokes (24 front and rear), the rear hub, and cassette body. But the front hub has a carbon fiber center section and aluminum flanges. This makes for a very strong structure, perfect for riders without much luck with mountain bike wheels. I’ve seen previous versions of this wheel roll for over a decade with minimal maintenance. Mavic states that you can run anything between 1.1 and 2.5in. tires on the Crossmax Pros. That versatility, along with continual improvement over the 18-year history of the Crossmax name, delivers great performance and durability. Chapeau! -NL