Geared Up: Summertime Supplies

Jul 24th, 2019

If you’re like us, your laundry pile looks like a bike shop exploded and your workbench is sprouting used-up spares like an old potato. Re-supply with some new options.

Tiger Eye Helmet Mirror, $23

I never saw myself as a mirror person. I’ve always thought that if I want to see how close cars are, I can just turn my head and look. But as a gear reviewer, I decided it was my duty to properly test the Tiger Eye Helmet Mirror (with the Adventure Cycling logo, naturally). So I mounted it on the helmet I wear for my daily commute and went about my business dodging Missoula traffic.

The mirror mounted easily enough, though it took a little trial and error to get it into just the right spot. At first, I thought having a mirror in my visual field was a distraction. But after a week, I got used to it. And then awhile later, I discovered that I felt naked wearing a helmet without a mirror. Without realizing it, I’d become a mirror person. 

The benefits of the mirror go beyond the ability to see behind you without having to crane your neck — which, I should mention, is a huge benefit for older cyclists or those with a neck injury. The Tiger Eye is large enough that, with a quick look, I can get a pretty good idea of how many cars are behind me and how far, and I can process that information while still seeing ahead of me. I won’t make any claims about the Tiger Eye increasing my safety on the road, but I can attest that the mirror makes me feel safer. Which is good enough for me. 

Are there downsides to being a mirror person? Well, I’m pretty sure my dorkiness factor had increased substantially since I’ve become a mirror person, but I’ve always been pretty dorky anyway. No great loss there. –Dan Meyer

Flylow Anderson Shirt, $70

I love cycling gear that doesn’t look like cycling gear, it’s why I’ve long been a fan of Club Ride (see below). I don’t need a race-fit jersey or screaming brand name logo, I just want a shirt, darn it. Well, Flylow’s Anderson shirt fits that bill, and does so in an absurdly light and breezy package. Featuring plaid, pearl snaps, and polyester with a hint of spandex for stretch, this shirt is super lightweight and should be a great option for hot summer days on and off the bike. Seriously, it’s crazy lightweight. And SPF 50, so despite the barely-there feel you’re blocking some ultraviolet light. Flylow makes a longsleeve version for men and women (short sleeve is men only) that could well be the perfect summer touring shirt to keep the sun off and look good doing it. –Alex Strickland

Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Long Sleeve Button Down, $100

I’m a big fan of merino wool — it keeps you cool when it’s hot out, warm when it’s cold, and you can wear it for days with minimal stink. I also like long sleeves to keep the sun off my arms. And, anymore, I like wearing casual-looking clothes while touring to look more like a normal person and less like a “cyclist.” 

Smartwool must have been reading my mind, because the Merino Sport 150 Long Sleeve Button Down (inhale) boasts all the aforementioned qualities and adds a dash of style. The Button Down is made of Smartwool’s light and airy 150-weight fabric and includes ventilating mesh under the arms and on the back. It’s also very stretchy, allowing for full freedom of movement. As with all apparel, I recommend trying you buy. I found the medium to be a little loose, which I liked, but you might prefer a snugger fit. 

I’ve worn the Button Down on cool spring rides and hot summer days, and it’s quickly become my new favorite touring shirt. Sure, it can be a little warm on a sunny day, but when a breeze kicks up, it does a better job of cooling me than a regular jersey or short-sleeve shirt. I especially like that I can hop off my bike and stroll into a café without looking like a lost gran fondo participant. –DM

Brooks Cambium C15 Carved All-Weather Saddle, $120

Brooks’ Cambium line has always been a boon to cyclists like me who don’t have the patience to properly break in a leather saddle. But I’ve always been leery of the organic cotton material, which can absorb water and sweat. Luckily, Brooks now offers an All-Weather version of the Cambium, made of a water- and weatherproof vulcanized rubber. Like the original Cambium, the All-Weathers are also available in Carved versions, which include a cutout for additional flex. 

To properly test a saddle that supposedly needs no break-in period, I installed the C15 on my gravel bike and promptly went for an 85-mile ride on the backroads near Solvang, California. It was my second dropbar ride of the season, and by the end, my tush was the least sore part of me. Since then, the Cambium All-Weather has been with me for many more rides, and it’s just as comfortable now as it was on Day One. 

Out of the box, the All-Weather saddle looked a little … cheap. The rubber material had a dull finish, and at first glance I was disappointed. But after that first ride, the rubber’s finish shined up and the Cambium had the look of the premium saddle that it is. 

The Cambium’s one downside won’t surprise any Brooks devotees out there: it’s heavy. Small price to pay for comfort, if you ask me. But if you must have something lighter, Brooks offers the C13 saddle, which has a carbon frame instead of steel. It’s also significantly more money, naturally. 

Like all Brooks saddles, the Cambium All-Weather is available in several widths. I tested the C15, which, with a width of 140mm, was well suited to the more head-down position on my gravel bike. If you ride more upright, or if you just like wider saddles, Brooks also offers the C17 and C19 at 162mm and 184mm respectively. (The aforementioned carbon C13 saddle is available in 132mm and 145mm widths.) –DM

Related Reading