Swami’s picks for bike accessories, from an enduro-styled full protection lid to a portable shower that “captures” the water pressure you put into it.
I put three seasons of heavy use into the first generation X-Projects, now I have six months of riding in the 1.0. I have a hard time seeing myself changing brand or model. The X-Projects are built for how I ride bikes. The sole is as stiff as a racing shoe for maximum energy transfer, but you can actually walk in rugged country thanks to a flex point at the ball of the foot. This means it works for an XC race, but also for an ultra-endurance event or all manner of actual trail rides where everyone deals with the dreaded hike a bike. Swami gripe: The sizing is off by a size. The 43 fits like a 42. Swami like: My favorite Sunday ride includes a staircase descent down stacked boulders above a ravine filled with whitewater. With the X-Projects I don’t skitter to my death.
As with all helmets, I quickly tested the Tectal Race via a soaring endo after plunging my front wheel into a mud filled waterbar. Luckily, I didn’t hit hard enough to trash it, because I like this enduro-styled full protection lid. First, it has a visor, which I find crucial for mountain biking (vision and all that). Second, it’s ventilated for mountain biking, which means the vents are big enough to exhaust heat on a slog-like climb. And finally, there’s ample coverage on the back of the head for above-said soaring endos. Swami gripe: At 340 grams it might not be light enough for XC gram counters, of whom I am one on occasion. Swami like: Matches up seamlessly with the POC Crave sunglasses on page 68.
If I’m riding in good weather for less than three hours, I carry tools and tube in a saddlebag, a bottle in the cage, and a second bottle in the jersey pocket with an ultralight shell like the Montane on page 51. But I prefer T-shirt cut shirts to race pocketed jerseys. Now what? This simple bib liner from Pearl Izumi includes three jersey-like pockets at the lower back. Big enough for the phone, bottle, and shell. Swami gripe: I wish the pockets were both deeper and higher on the back. Swami like: Unlike my road bibs, which I typically wore under my baggies, the liner is far more air permeable and shorter to keep you cool.
I converted to these slick saddlebags last year because they’re brilliant. Instead of fumbling around in a tiny zippered bag for tools and tube after a flat, with the Seatsleev you simply unvelcro the unit from the saddle and it folds out to reveal all your gear. Or, if you’re in a rush, simply pull the tube, CO2, and lever directly out of their elasticized sleeves. Swami gripe: The open design makes me nervous about the CO2 chuck. I now carry that in a pocket. Swami like: There’s an overbag for nasty conditions.
Here’s a cool product for car camping with mountain bikes. Developed by a wicked smart one-time pool man who knows something about pipes and water, the RinseKit portable shower “captures” the water pressure you put into it. If you fill it from your spigot (typically 65 psi) and haul it to your rough campsite, you can spray the mud off your bikes, legs, shoes, and dogs, just like you’re in the backyard. Swami gripe: It would be nice to get that pressure from still water, too. (Stay tuned for that.) Swami like: Put it in the sun and it has mild solar shower properties. A heater is coming soon.
This Whitefish, Montana, company has been in the sports nutrition game since 1987. We like them because they back their product claims with cited research and offer clear advice on their site. For our Carbondale tests, they provided their everyday hydration formula, HEED, their endurance racing mix, Perpetuem, and their exceedingly popular recovery drink, Recoverite, as well as a wide selection of vegan bars and energy gels—the Nocciola (chocolate hazelnut) is a favorite. We used the products in Carbondale, through the winter skate skiing, and again cycling. We heartily endorse the entire line. Swami gripe: As with all such foods, some flavors agree with you and some don’t. Try a sample before placing a large order. Swami like: Much of the fueling emphasis is built around complex carbohydrates as opposed to the more simple sugars.
From our Early Summer 2016 issue.