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November 9, 2009
Wow…What a weekend to be a cyclist in Australia! Beautiful weather, bike racing galore, bikinis on the beaches….does it get any better than this? I think not…
Photo by Leigh Schilling – Nothing to do with the following post…
I try to not push my product recommendations on you too much in this blog. I’ve been very fortunate in my years of cycling to have had a lot of sponsorships and goodies thrown my way and I’m always conscious not to mix these into my content. It’s very promiscuous how many pro cyclists say “this is the best bike I’ve ever owned” and then say the same thing with their new bike sponsor the next year. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate every single bit of support I’ve had over the years, but you get numb to it after a while. A new bike is just another new bike. They’re all quite amazing these days – just different levels of amazing. However, there’s also lots of simple stuff that I’ve paid for out of my own pocket and would gladly do so again. I have a number of items that whenever I use I think to myself “Man, I love this…”.
Here are a list of the products I own and I feel was money well spent. It’s obviously not an exhaustive list. Of course I haven’t tried or bought everything!
– My old ratty DeFeet undershirt. It cost me what I thought was an unreasonable amount when I first bought it ($50 or so) but in 10yrs it’s still my favorite undershirt. Don’t underestimate the value of a good base layer. It makes such a difference in hot or cold conditions.
– My DeFeet gloves. I can use these in anywhere from 0 to 12 degrees C. They’re just thick enough to keep your hands warm but breath well so they’re always dry. They have these great little grippers on the palms. I love these gloves.
– Etxeondo arm/knee warmers. I’ve had these things for 8 years and used them every punishing winter. They still are going strong and still look PRO.
– Teosport gloves. I’ve had these for two years and have never owned a set of gloves that have lasted me more than a few months. These are the GOODS. Super comfy and still look like new.
– Toe covers (I have Assos, but I doubt it matters much which brand). I’ve never used these in cold weather until I saw someone else doing it. 80% of the time it’s all I wear in the winter. They keep your toes warm and are much easier to get your shoes on and off with.
– Assos oversocks. The last set I owned were DeFeet and they lasted me years. I loved every last thread of them. The Assos ones seem to be just as good. They keep your feet warm and your shoes clean when it’s cold and wet outside.
Etxeondo arm warmers, toe covers, over-socks, gloves
– My Campagnolo Eurus wheels. They cost me about $900 (yes…off the internet) and every time I ride them I think about how great they feel and how they’ve never failed me. If I were to do it again I’d probably save myself $200-$300 and go for the Campy Zondas instead because there’s very little difference (Chorus versus Record hub). Either way, these are fantastic all-round wheels. You’ll see Robbie McEwen racing on Zondas all the time.
– My Assos knicks. They cost me about $400 but if you have the cash, they’re worth it. When a cold, wet, long EPIC ride is coming up I’ll double up and wear these underneath my team knicks. They’re incredibly comfortable and last for years. Yes, they’re a bit of a luxury item, but a good set of knicks is worth every penny. You can get a good set for half the price as these.
– My Capoforma socks. I save these for special occasions and feel like I’m wearing a whole new kit every time I put these socks on.
– My FSA K-Force handlebars. I just got them but I’m pretty sure they’ll be a close friend life. They feel sensational. They have a nice shallow drop that flare out slightly from the hood position. This means I can get that nice wide grip when I’m in the drops but a narrower grip when I’m on the hoods. Love em!
– Speedplay pedals. I’ll never go back to anything else. If you grease the axel of the pedal every 6 months these will last you for years. The cleats are the only inconvenience. They wear out relatively quickly and will cost you $75 to replace. Well worth it though.
– My powermeter. I’m not necessarily hooked on the PowerTap in particular, but I love having a powermeter. If you’re serious about improving on the bike and want to throw some money at a valuable tool to help, a powermeter is the way to go. You can measure your improvement and train your weaknesses. I’ll be getting some Quarq power cranks in the near future and I’m looking forward to pairing them up with a Garmin head unit.
– Rock n Roll lube. This is the best lube that I’ve used. I don’t have a photo because I’m out, but I’ll be getting some today!
– Last but not least, anything merino wool. I’ll never buy cotton again.