While it’s a bit morbid to say it, with the countdown getting closer and closer to the inevitable, time only becomes more precious. As the years go by and I get older, certain ways of approaching horseback riding seem to become more cemented in my mind and manifested in my daily activities and practices.
It has helped me focus on the products that make my time on the bike easier, more comfortable, and more efficient – and just as important, more fun.
While this year’s Equipment of the Year products are no more philosophical than in my 2019 and 2020 editions, they have been refined to unilaterally improve my cycling life.
Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo
I promise I’ll stop talking about this bike at some point in the future, but only when I find one this good.
While e-mountain bikes are universally capable of making hour-long mash-ups with 1,000m of up and down a living reality, at the time of writing this and my in-depth review of Turbo Levo, no other electric bike has made it as fun, or as fast as this one.
Thanks to its suspension, geometry, chassis, components and engine, the Turbo Levo is immensely capable on the vast expanses of terrain of my home trails, also used for the British round of the Enduro World Series.
I was so impressed with the performance of the bike that I said it was “the best bike I have ridden to date, period”. Now that statement intentionally included all non-motorized bikes as well, so it would have been wrong of me not to include it in this edition of Gear of the Year.
I totally agree that the £ 13,000 price tag is mind blowing and takes it out of filler territory, but its performance has impressed me.
If you are in the market for what I consider to be the best electric mountain bike to date, look no further.
Bell Super DH Spherical MTB Helmet
We only have one head and one brain.
Mountain biking is dangerous (but fun).
Limiting and mitigating risks is a wise practice if we are to continue mountain biking.
Since the consequences of ignoring this message are grim, the principle of protecting your head is nothing new, and no less sensible than when the first person decided to put on a Styrofoam hat while on their bike. .
The Bell Super DH Spherical is one of the safest convertible lids on the market, meeting the ASTM F1952 lowering standard when the chin bar is installed. It also uses the MIPS Spherical system which is believed to help protect against rotational impacts.
Its removable chin bar also increases its versatility. Slow, hot climbs can be tackled with her in open face mode, before reattaching her for gnarly descents.
On top of that, it’s comfortable, snug, and looks great, mimicking the style of Bell’s Full-9 DH cover.
I wear Super DH on almost every ride (trail and enduro focused) and religiously strap the chin bar on before descents.
Technical editor Rob Weaver agrees, giving the cover 4.5 stars when he reviewed it in 2018.
Yes, it’s pricey at just under £ 300, but you can’t put a price on your brain.
Five Ten Trailcross Gore-Tex MTB Shoes
Although I only recently got my feet in these shoes and posted a four-star review in early November, they have to be one of the best products launched for flat-pedal riders, period.
Grip is perfect, mixing the sheer traction of the Impact Pros with the slightly more pedal tuning of the Trailcross XT.
The Gore-Tex membrane means that they are resistant to immersion (up to the limit of the membrane on the ankle) and their fit is secure but not too tight.
On a UK winter hike, having dry, warm feet is revolutionary and can extend a hike beyond the first puddle or stream crossing, with dramatically improved comfort and enjoyment.
They aren’t faultless – their price tag and reliance on the rest of your setup to stay waterproof takes a bit of a toll on their performance – but they’re pretty darn close.
Arguably, however, these shoes are a flagship for flat-pedal cyclists and deserve to be featured in my gear of the year.
EVOC Hip Pack Race 3l
Although I got lyrical about the Patagonia Black Hole 5L waist pack when I tested it, and my review still stands, as the times, preferences and needs evolve.
The EVOC Hip Pack Race 3l became my favorite bum bag earlier this year when I started grabbing even more snacks on my outings and struggled to find room in Patagonia.
The need for more space is stuck, and this pack has now driven over 5,000 miles off-road around my waist in 2021, proving its worth.
Inside there are two compartments. The larger of the two has room for my tire and shock pumps, snacks, as well as a jacket, spare gloves, and my phone. The second section has three individual elastic pockets which are perfect for a thin Tubolito inner tube, a puncture repair kit and tubeless tire caps, and a multi-tool, with more space for tire changers and tires. extras.
There are two more zippered hip pockets and straps for attaching the chin bar of my Bell Super DH cover on the climbs. And there’s an elasticated section that’s big and tight enough to safely carry a 750ml water bottle.
While this model has been discontinued, the current Hip Pack Pro 3 model is just as good and tops our picks as the best hip bag currently available.