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The holidays are looming, and with that comes the stress of finding the right gifts for family and friends. And if the cyclist in your life is constantly pining after the newest tech, that task can be even more daunting, given how complicated gadgets are. Luckily, our gear experts test hundreds each year, and we’ve compiled our favorites in this handy guide.
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The fēnix 6X Pro picks up where the fēnix 5 left off, adding better battery life, increased ability to customize screens and workout profiles, and the ability to pair to ANT+ sensors in addition to Bluetooth ones. For power nerds (TrainingPeaks upload or it didn't happen) that means you can use this watch as a substitute for your normal bike computer if you either forgot to pack it or simply don't want to use it from time to time. The watch records sleep and stress data, which you can easily access along with a bevy of other health stats in the Garmin Connect app, and you can auto-sync with a wide variety of third-party apps including MyFitnessPal, Strava, and TrainingPeaks. The battery lasts so long you'll completely forget that's something you need to do, but the low-battery alert gives you a 19-hour buffer to get your watch to a charger. Once on the charger, the watch will be topped off well within three hours.
The sturdy steel Suito is the best new trainer we tested this year. It comes pre-installed with a Shimano 11-speed cassette and pre-assembled legs. Compared with the company’s top-end model, the Drivo II, this direct-drive trainer sacrifices only a smidge of accuracy (+/-2.5% vs. +/-0.5%) but offers faster resistance transitions and the freedom to ride untethered (the Drivo II is managed through the company’s My E-Training app, which costs $18.95 a year)—all for $400 less. And when disconnected from the virtual world, the Suito offered the most generous momentum experience of any other trainer in this test—in other words, resistance doesn’t top out the faster you go.
Polar’s Vantage V is an unapologetic fitness watch, so light (66 grams) and comfortable that you’ll forget it’s on your wrist. Battery life is exceptional, up to seven days, or 40 hours with GPS on–so good, in fact, that you run the risk of ending up with a dead battery simply because charging it never becomes part of your routine. Along with pairing to external heart rate straps, which is standard fare at this point, the Vantage V will also pair to BLE-compatible sensors, such as power meters. The watch is user–friendly, the controls are intuitive, and the app does a good job guiding you through setup. The app also allows you to sync training data to third-party sites such as Strava and Training Peaks, plus boasts sleep, recovery, and stress tracking that rivals the stand-out Whoop Strap below.
Connectivity is the game for Garmin’s powerhouse 520 Plus. You can make use of Garmin’s own suite of features like rider-to-rider messaging via GroupTrack (on compatible smartphones) and turn-by-turn navigation, or add third-party apps like personalized training plans from TrainingPeaks, Accuweather alerts, even detailed trail info from Trailforks. It’s most powerful when paired to other Garmin hardware, like the Varia light and radar system, or Garmin power meters for tracking and analyzing performance metrics like pedaling efficiency.
If the cyclist in your life grew up in the 1990s, then anodized aluminum tubeless valve stems are the perfect stocking stuffer. Easy to install with a 4mm Allen wrench, these come with three different shaped rubber stoppers to fit with nearly all rim profiles, as well as a machined aluminum valve core removal tool. Best of all, the stems are available in eight different colors, so you’re sure to find the right one to spice up those hoops.
You read that right: a smart lock for your bike. This Bluetooth–enabled model pairs with your smartphone, and it will only unlock when it detects that your phone is within range. The owner can grant temporary or permanent access to others, so it’s also a great option for shared bikes. Should someone attempt to steal your ride while locked, the Abus 770A SmartX U Lock will sound a 100-decibel alarm. It charges via a USB port, and is resistant to the elements—no need to worry about leaving it outside in a rain storm.
The Max is GoPro’s first camera that can capture footage in 360 degrees, making it the ideal toy for recording bike adventures. Updated image stabilization allows you to log amazingly steady video even while rattling over bone-jarring rocks. Then there’s the horizon lock function, which keeps the horizon steady in the frame during playback. The camera boasts six microphones, and users have the option of selecting which ones are recording at any given time. Videos are stitched in 6k and it’s all done on the camera. Finally, the GoPro app now allows you to edit and manipulate your 360-degree video files right from your phone, so you can record, edit, and share your creations without having to fire up the laptop.
The Fenix 5X Plus has many of the same features as the Forerunner 945, but it packages them into a more robust case that comes in 3 sizes (42mm, 47mm, and 51mm) and adds a better battery. Garmin claims it will last up to 20 days in smartwatch mode and up to 13 hours when using GPS. It's packed to the gills with features for the elite and recreational cyclist, or anyone who loves tracking stats. You also get a pulse oximeter and sleep tracking functions. When paired to a smartphone you can stream music via spotify, get text and call notifications notifications, and make use of the discrete assistance alert as well as incident detection. Along with the color above, the watch is available with a titanium band for $1,100.
The Palm Phone can be anything from your full-time phone to your bike computer. It has an IP68 rating, hardy enough to survive dirty trails and rainy rides while attached to your handlebar. And at 2 inches wide and 3.8 inches tall, it’s roughly the size of a business card. It’s so compact it’s shocking at first. But consider: With most other smartphones growing in size, and jersey–pocket real estate at a premium, the Palm is an ideal solution for cyclists. Its sleek styling is in line with what most smartphone manufacturers are doing. And the 3.3-inch HD display has a pixel density of 445 ppi, not far off from the iPhone 11 Pro’s 458 ppi.
Putting out an impressive 2,500 lumens, the four LED bulbs in the Seca flood the trail with light, illuminating a wide swath in front of you and making it easy to see upcoming turns. It also has a focused beam to enhance the nuances of the terrain. The button is easy to press—toggling through the four modes (high, medium, low, and pulse)—even with gloves on. A simple rubber strap mounts this light to a helmet or handlebar without any fuss, and you can use the adapter to fasten it to any GoPro mounts.
Though it has new navigation features and a color screen (a first for Wahoo), the Roam is, at its microprocessor heart, an Elemnt. That means easy setup and customization from Wahoo’s companion Elemnt app; compatibility with both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart sensors (including FE-C trainers, Pioneer’s power meters, and muscle-oxygen sensors); third-party app integration; and routes, navigation, and turn-by-turn directions. Elemnt computers also offer structured workout guidance.
The love affair between cyclists and coffee is well documented, and this app–controlled ceramic mug won’t be ending it any time soon. The Ember 2 charges quickly when on the coaster, and it will keep your coffee at the temperature of your choosing—between 120 and 145 degrees—for an hour, thanks to heating filaments embedded in the ceramic. Download the Ember app and pair the mug to your phone to set the temperature and customize the LED indicator. Be warned: This mug has a way of rendering all others in your cabinet obsolete.
An ice bath is a low-tech but extremely effective way to reduce inflammation and speed up recovery after a hard workout. But say you don’t have a tub or several bags of ice laying around. And let’s not forget the discomfort of actually getting into that ice bath. IceLegs solves those problems. Store the reusable ice packs in your freezer, and when you’re ready to use them, simply slide them into the fabric sleeves, wrap them around your legs, and kick back on the couch. No mess, no fuss, and no more freezing sensitive body parts.
The R1’s +/-3% power readings are on the low end for a direct-drive trainer in this price range, but this trainer offers something unique in the ride-feel department that others don’t: more freedom to move the bike from side to side. Controlled by rubber elastomers between the legs and the drive mechanism, this movement can be adjusted simply by tightening or loosening the two bolts that hold the elastomers in place. This level of freedom might feel funny at first, especially if you’re accustomed to being locked into place, but the longer you ride the more you’ll appreciate being able to shift around at will—you can actually throw your bike from side to side during all-out sprints the same way you would on the road. The R1, the company’s entry into the direct-drive category, works with the usual apps, including Zwift, TrainerRoad, The Sufferfest, and its own Kinetic Fit via ANT+, ANT+ FE-C, and Bluetooth Smart. It’s compatible with Garmin devices and nearly all bikes, even those requiring a thru-axle. But unlike the other Kinetic trainer in our story, a separate purchase of the Traxle thru-axle adapter is not required.
This chest strap features both ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity. It can also store up to 16 hours of data for future download and analysis, should you go for a ride without your computer. And it has a treadmill mode for tracking speed and distance while you’re running in place, plus it’s compatible with dozens of third-party apps. We have no complaints with the soft, adjustable strap.
Bontrager says the Ion 200 RT (front) and Flare RT (rear) daytime running lights are visible from 1.3 miles away. What’s more, with multiple steady modes, flash modes, and the ability to control everything right from your cycling computer, these lights are user-friendly. The USB charging port has an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning it can be submerged for 30 minutes in up to one meter of water. For being so tiny, these pack a lot of power.
The C7 Shakedry jacket helps keeps you shielded from rain on any ride where the precipitation is short of biblical—all without a DWR coating that wears off over time. Yet it’s not so impervious as to keep sweat from evaporating; the innovative construction makes the C7 more breathable than any other waterproof jacket we’ve tried. (It better be at that price.) Our size medium is only 159 grams, so it’s easy to stow in a jersey pocket or just leave in your commuter pack.
OneUp’s EDC kicked off the in-frame tool craze–Trek and Specialized, which now offer their own tools tucked into stems, recently got in on the trend. But this system, which nests in the fork’s steerer, is still the best. It’s compatible with most steer tubes, but pair it with the new EDC stem for easiest installation.
Armed with two technologies while retaining the same quality Specialized is known for, this helmet is on the cutting edge of safety. The first piece of tech, ANGi, is a 10-gram sensor that can send out a notification to your emergency contacts when it detects a strong head trauma. MIPS, the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System that allows your head to rotate within the helmet’s shell (helping diminish forces in a crash), is the second.
It’s easy to see (or, rather, hear) why the Kickr is Wahoo’s marquee product. It’s whisper-quiet, a massive improvement on the trainers of old that made it sound like you were operating heavy machinery in your living room. It’s also compatible with all kinds of bikes and devices, offering a friendlier setup for rigs with disc brakes, Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, compatibility with Zwift and the like, and of course smooth operation with Wahoo’s own bike computers. And 2,200 watts of resistance, the ability to simulate up to a 20-percent grade, and a preinstalled 11-speed cassette with cadence sensor round out this trainer.
This power meter includes chainrings, carbon arms, and truly measures total power output (instead of merely doubling the reading from one leg). It gets better, with 400 hours of battery life, an impressively light overall weight, and multiple sizing options.
Not satisfied with your standard GoPro? Rylo’s 360 Video Camera is packed with cool and user-friendly features. It uses multiple lenses, Rylo’s own algorithm, and some powerful stabilization technology to shoot steady footage in a full 360 degrees. Then there’s the smartphone app, which pairs with the camera in real-time and includes not just lens controls but some pretty sophisticated editing tools as well.
The Google Glass never took off like some predicted, and yes, the Solos Smart Glasses look pretty similar. But in this case, less is more. They stick to what you need on your ride (or run) and are comprehensive, efficient, and simple. You can toggle through the constantly updating data projected in the corner of the lens to show measures such as distance, speed, and heart rate. The glasses can also give you turn-by-turn directions. The setup includes a microphone and speakers, plus of course protection from the sun’s rays.
Now “there’s an app for that” applies to bike pumps, too. The Silca Tattico Bluetooth (rated to 120 psi) senses when you begin inflating the tires and automatically pairs with the iGauge app on your smartphone so you can see the pressure reading on the screen.
With the Coros Omni, you could pretty much work from the saddle if you wanted to. The helmet transmits audio to your inner ear (the same technology Aftershokz uses), leaving your ears unencumbered and you aware of your surroundings. A microphone and a handlebar-mounted remote let you pair the Omni with your smartphone and use basic controls to conduct phone calls as you ride, wire- and distraction-free. Rear LEDs and the ability to automatically dial an emergency contact when it detects a crash boost the helmet’s safety cred.
Take post-ride recovery to the next level. In addition to the benefits of a traditional ridged foam roller, this one vibrates in three frequencies, which Phenom claims can help improve an athlete’s range of motion by as much as 40 percent. The rechargeable lithium battery lasts three hours, which is plenty of time for a thorough massage.
The Quarq ShockWiz is a small gadget, essentially a complicated sensor inside a protective plastic casing, that connects to your bike’s fork or Schrader valve to constantly monitor air pressure while you ride. The Quarq phone app then uses that data to tell you if any issues arise.
This handy tool can dispense CO2 to simultaneously re-inflate and plug a flat tubeless tire, saving time and hassle on the trail. Its aluminum build is highly durable, light, and small enough to stash in a pocket or strap to your bike.
Airshield Temperature Probe
Since its launch in 2015, Zwift has revolutionized riding on an indoor trainer. For $15 a month and the cost of a compatible smart trainer, you can join a community of cyclists connected through an ever-expanding virtual world directly from your living room. Call it the ideal marriage of cycling and the internet.
For $60, you can purchase a one-year subscription to Strava Summit, one of the most advanced and popular ride-tracking services available. The bare essentials are free, but a monthly fee gets you access to some attractive features. Strava now splits those into three packs—Training, Safety, and Analysis—which you can pay for individually for a few dollars a month. But with the full Summit experience, you get training plans, personalized goal-setting, and live activity tracking for friends and family.
Reusable Spo2 Sensor, Disposable Spo2 Sensor - Medke,https://www.medke.com/