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This last vid for 2020 is all about me trying to right a wrong. It’s a round-up of products that impressed me but don’t cost a bundle, where the performance outshone the price. My budget bangers of 2020.
Why budget bangers? Well, I got called out on social media.
After I posted my Ten Things I Loved for 2020, it was kindly pointed out that none of the gear I’d used in either of my budget challenges – where I tried to kit myself out from top to tail for summer at a partially $200, and then again for winter – had made the cut for my favourite items of 2020.
In fact, most of my Most Loved pieces on their own exceeded the sum of $200 that I’d set myself in both challenges. In fact, just a handful of my pieces in my list “totted up” to the price you’d pay for a week’s holiday away. Yeah, cycling kit can be bloody stupidly priced.
It’s no surprise though, we get the chance to use some seriously nice kit throughout the year here at CT, and for the most part, it’s not the budget options that brands like to send us. That’s understandable; they want to show off their latest and greatest tech, after all.
But the Tweet that called me out got me thinking. What were the stand out items from 2020 that didn’t break the bank?
It wasn’t hard to recommend a few items because honestly gear that’s not megabucks can be pretty damn good. Sure there’s a breaking point where certain items lack even the mildest of technical flourishes. But if you’re willing to spend just a little bit more than what many would call “true budget” then you’ll find that there is a whole plethora of clothing, components and anything else you need to pedal a bike that performs way better than they should for the money they are asking for.
And that’s what this last vid for 2020 is all about, a round-up of stuff that impressed me, where the performance outshone the price.
And as for 2021, well I promise you that they’ll be a whole gaggle of budget vids coming your way on here. The few $200 challenges I’ve played about with this year have got me thinking about bigger “budget” plans for future videos.
Have a great new year, cheers
Met Vinci helmet
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Met lids; their Rivale sneaked into my top picks of 2020. So it’s no surprise that the Vinci helmet at $100 ended up in this list. Between the two lids, there’s very little difference in noticeable ventilation and comfort. What you’re paying for with the Rivale is lighter weight and more streamlined design, but honestly, the Vinci is a lot of bang for your buck.
More information: met-helmets.com
Price: $100 / €100
Decathlon Van Rysel RCR
This thing didn’t do well in the winter kit challenge; it was far to thin for deep winter. But as a good quality spring and autumnal jersey, I have high hopes for it. It seems well made, looks the part and that drop tail should keep your arse dry on damp mornings.
More information: decathlon.com
Price: $70 / €50
Trek Checkpoint ALR5
I really liked this bike when I tested back at the start of the year, and things haven’t changed. So much so that I’m currently building one up.
Sure there’s a ton of alloy gravel frames out there that will hit the same price point, and to tell you the truth I bet they all do an equally good job at getting you off the busy roads and on to some quiet dusty backroads.
Basically, this is a recommendation for good quality alloy gravel bikes. And the Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 hits that nail dead on the head.
More information: trekbikes.com
Price: $2099 / €2199
Shimano 105 Groupset
What is there to say about Shimano’s 105 groupsets? Sure it isn’t as light as or as whizz-bang with its material choices as it’s fancier siblings, but this thing functions like a dream, doesn’t burn too big a hole in your pocket and will keep on chugging away for years. It’s just a superb groupset.
More infomation: bike.shimano.com
Price: $696 / €994
Sportful Hotpack Gillet
Yes, you can find lightweight gilets for $20+ cheaper but if my previous Hot Pack gillet is anything to go by you’ll be glad to spend that extra few dollars in the long run. My first Hot Pack gilet is still going strong, five years after I bought it, and it still fits which either means I’m doing ok at keeping my figure or that the material has more stretch than I give it credit for. I hope it’s the former.
At $70 RRP it seems a touch expensive, but at $45, which seems to be the going rate on many sites, it’s an absolute steal.
More information: www.sportful.com
Price: $70 / €64
This thing impressed back when I undertook the $200 challenge. They look the biz, seem pretty damn comfy enough and the nylon sole, though not super stiff, will be more than stiff enough for any budding cyclists. They also do a gravel version for the same price, a proper bargain that really surprised me.
More information: wiggle.com
Price: $80 / €88
DHB Budget Tights and Shorts
I’ve bundled these together. Again, another item from the UK powerhouse that is Wiggle’s inhouse brand DHB. Sure the Roubaix lining in the tights isn’t as warm as pricier tights I’ve used, and the lycra used in the shorts isn’t as lush as others, but the pad in both are a treat for your backside. Just like DHB’s shoes surprised, the use of Elastic Interface pads present in both items seriously surprised me, in the best possible way.
Hunt 4 Season X-Wide Gravel Wheels
I’ll let you into a secret: I’ve yet to use these wheels. Now stick with me people. I’ve checked them out in the garage where they’re waiting to go on the Checkpoint build, plus I’ve chatted with others that have used them and from reading a bunch of other reviews, the 4 Season X-Wide wheels seem to be an absolute steal for the price. I can’t wait to give these a serious testing.
I’m expecting big things not just from this wheelset but also from Hunt over the next few years. The reason, well come 2021, when the season kicks off again, we’ll be seeing team Assos-Qhubeka roll out on Hunt wheels, a massive step up for the young UK-based company.
More information: huntbikewheels.com
Price: $439 / €439
Fabric Line saddle
Now, this item I have tested, and tested, and tested because I’ve had one on my bikes for many years now.
Sure they’re not the biggest player in the saddle market, or the most iconic, but they sure do know how to put a good product together at a reasonable price. At $80, you can, like many products on this list, buy something for half the price, but anyone who ever rode a cheap saddle for any distance will tell you that’s not always a great idea.
More information: fabric.cc
Price: $80 / €79