I almost always wear something under my helmet these days, whether it’s a skull cap to wick sweat or a classic cycling cap to keep the sun out of my eyes. On hot summer days, I often reach for Giro’s SPF Ultralight Cap. It does a fantastic job of giving my face a little shade, especially on morning rides when I’m heading up-canyon, into the sun, without impeding breathability. The Ultralight is exactly that — it’s so light and comfortable that I barely notice it’s on my head (it only comes in one size, so your fit may vary; I have a smallish head and wear a medium helmet, and the cap fit me perfectly). And unlike every other cycling cap I’ve owned, the brim flips up and back down easily and without losing its shape. The SPF Ultralight is a great addition to your summer kit, and at $22 it won’t dent your wallet. –Dan Meyer
The most comfortable collared shirt I’ve ever worn to ride, Sombrio’s Silhouette (Vagabond for men) is rugged but not heavy, with bike-specific features like an above-the-hip light loop. But it’s also a great shirt to wear around town whether I’m pedaling or not. The burly snaps are on a reinforced strip, so they won’t pull out. Underarm embroidered eyelet vents let the breeze in, though I never felt sweaty in this shirt because it’s a poly/cotton blend, not straight synthetic. The fabric is stretchy, so this shirt didn’t feel restrictive like some riding plaids. It has a nice weight to it without being too heavy, which was delightful on cool mornings when I left camp and late afternoons after I finally laid down my bike for the day. The fabric felt breathable and good on my skin thanks to the poly-cotton-spandex blend, which also helped it dry efficiently and staved off stink better than pure synthetic. The chest pockets are tacked at one corner, which kept cash and a credit card from falling out. –Berne Broudy
Like the Mini Handlebar Bag that Berne Broudy reviewed in last year’s Holiday Gift Guide, Lead Out’s Mini Frame Bag is a smart and simple piece of gear for your road, gravel, or touring bike. It’s designed to fit most dropbar frames without obstructing bottle access, and it installs easily with a few hook-and-loop straps and two elastic cords. The Mini Frame Bag fit my 56cm All-City Zig Zag perfectly, leaving plenty of room for a full-size bottle on the down tube. It’s a good size for snacks and a few essentials; I especially liked using it in the winter to hold my phone, a pair of lobster mitts, and a warm cap, just in case. Lead Out claims the fabric is water resistant, though I didn’t get much of a chance to test that here in arid Utah. I very much like the reflective material on the sides, as there’s no such thing as being too visible when you’re sharing the road with cars. The Lead Out Mini Frame Bag is a rare piece of test gear that I have zero complaints about — it’s been on my road bike for months now, and I can’t think of a reason to take it off. –DM
I get sweaty riding, which frequently fogs my shades. It also frequently sends them slipping off my face. Smith’s full-coverage Bobcat stayed on without fogging, and they sat off my face so the air could flow around the frames while providing plenty of coverage to keep sun, bugs, and mud out of my eyes. The slightly wrap-around Bobcat has a modern-looking, bio-based frame that’s smaller than other shades I’ve tried with the same silhouette. Adjustable, anti-slip temples and nose pads kept the glasses from creeping down as I rode and perspired. Smith’s patented ChromaPop lenses made the world look cheery and bright, and they enhance the details of the trail, helping me see clearly. The Bobcats come with two lenses — one ChromaPop tinted and one clear. Pick your lens and frame; there are six options in each. The lenses are interchangeable, but there’s no way to swap lenses on the trail without smearing them. Fortunately, the shades come with a microfiber soft case inside the hard case for that scenario. And these glasses were so awesome, having to wipe off a few fingerprints was well worth it. –BB
Tally up one more to the I Wish I’d Thought of That list: Waterfield’s Cycling Tote is exactly what I’ve been wanting for years. If you find yourself driving to the trailhead like I do, and you find yourself tossing everything into a tote bag — shoes, helmet, snacks, bottles, tools, etc. — only to find that, when you get to the trailhead, your bottles are upside-down and leaking, your shoes are now somehow inside your helmet, and your expensive sunglasses are getting squished at the very bottom, then the Cycling Tote is for you.
The Tote has four internal pockets, two for shoes and two for bottles, with a large interior space for layers, gloves, and a helmet. There are also three exterior pockets, one with a zipper. In other words, everything has its place so you’re not rummaging around in a black hole while your friends are impatiently waiting for you to get ready. The Cycling Tote is available in brown or blue waxed canvas or black nylon, and, like everything Waterfield makes, it’s handmade in small batches in San Francisco. All that craftsmanship and attention to detail naturally comes at a price — $139 is a lot of money for something you would otherwise get just for donating to your local public radio station — but the Cycling Tote ain’t your usual tote bag. It’s a beautiful piece of gear that feels as if it should last for years and years. And you might think I’m crazy for saying this, but considering just how well made it is, I’m a little surprised it doesn’t cost more. –DM
If you love riding in a tank top, check out Shredly’s Cadence tank. It’s got the ideal cut for cyclists — higher in the neck, with a breathable stretch mesh back panel that makes it comfortable to wear in the hottest weather. The recycled polyester/Tencel/Lycra tank is buttery soft, and it does a great job of drying fast, even in the most humid conditions. A tiny zipper pocket on the hip is sized to hold a lip balm or a key. I rarely used that pocket, but on a couple of occasions it came in handy. The Cadence is an antimicrobial tank that’s casual enough to pair with a skirt and wear with something other than Lycra bibs or trail shorts. I wore it to the gym, for hikes, and out to dinner. One other design feature I appreciated is that although it’s a tank, it’s cut just a tad long in the shoulders for a little bit more sun protection. Also, the colors are fun and fabulous. –BB
Allygn is the component division of Fern Bicycles, a Berlin-based framebuilder that specializes in touring and rando bikes. If you’ve seen a Fern bike, you’ve surely noticed the painstaking attention to detail, and Allygn’s Diamond rack is no different. It’s very lightweight, especially so for a rack made of steel, and as such it’s intended for fast-and-light missions on a gravel or rando bike. Its low weight is enough to set it apart from the pack, but it’s the details that really make this rack special. For one, it comes with a huge amount of hardware to attain the best possible fit on many different kinds of bikes; you won’t have to go hunting for this or that bolt because the Diamond comes with everything you need. But my favorite feature is the dynamo light mount and cable routing: you can either bolt your light directly or make use of the included J-bracket, and there are guides to zip-tie the wiring for a clean look. It’s almost as if the rack was designed by someone with an extensive background in bicycle touring (hint: it was).
Instead of testing the Diamond on my gravel bike, I got a wild hair and decided to mount it on my bikepacking rig, using the rack mainly as a bag support but also to carry extras like a camp chair or a cot. The rack fit my Kona Unit just fine, although I did have to flip the stays to the outside to accommodate the wider fork. I don’t have a dynamo, but I was able to mount my battery-powered light onto the J-bracket, which worked like a charm. I subjected the Diamond to quite a bit of abuse, as I do, and it’s held up without issue. The Allygn Diamond’s price puts it on the upper end of the spectrum when compared with similar front racks, but the hardware kit and light mounting — not to mention the extensive and detailed instructions — mean you’re getting your money’s worth. –DM
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