Treat Yourself to an End of Tour Shopping Spree

Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

I normally associate the end of Le Tour the unofficial end of summer: When I was in school, the end of the Tour meant it was time to start thinking about the mandatory quarter/semester textbook ripoffs, and when I graduated from j-school the end of the tour meant, well, shit there’s no more cycling on TV for a while, perhaps I should work and bike more.

But one consistent summer activity I remember well is gear shopping. It’s a pretty cute idea to have a Tour De France-themed daily sale, to get all your year’s worth of Scratch on stage one and wrap it up with buying the 11-23 Dura-Ace cassette on the final day at Champs-Élysée.

So here are a few products we’ve been pretty smitten with lately. They are the few I won’t regret buying or recommending to my friends. You are my friend too, after all.

Kitsbow Geysers’ Jersey

Kitsbow Geysers' Jersey Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

We’ve been a fan of Kitsbow‘s offering for a while and the Petaluma company’s first foray in road-specific apparel did not disappoint. Clean, understated lines and it’s quickly becoming a favorite go-to for those long, all-day adventures. The Geysers’ are made of a 43% Merino and 57% Polyester blend so they’re slightly thicker and more durable (more on that in a sec) than your average typical spandex jerseys, yet they still breathe unbelievably well.

The fit was spot on. Not too tight and doesn’t like you’re letting it all hang out. Longer sleeves are also a welcomed addition. Kitsbow deserves a big high-five for the Geysers’ well-executed pocket arrangements. Besides the three standard rear pockets, there’s also a chest pocket for small items (perfect for credit cards), a water-resistant pocket in the back (for your phone), and there’s even a pump sleeve inside the center rear pocket, that I use to store sticks of CLIF Bloks.

I was in a pretty good crash while wearing one at the PressCamp MTB ride in Park City. I went over the bar and dented my helmet but the Geysers’ remained in one piece. Not what I expected from wearing a road jersey on a full-on mtb ride. Didn’t rip, didn’t break. I am now a fan. Extra credit: Kitsbow even included a microfiber cloth in the chest pocket for your phone/computer/glasses. It’s all in the details.

King Cage Titanium Water Bottle Cage

King titanium water bottle cage. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

I’ve had my run with water bottle cages and the one that I keep going back to is the King titanium cage. It’s a classy-looking, light as a feather (28g, thank you titanium) cage individually made from a one-man shop out of Durango, Colorado that just keeps working. It’s the only cage that I’ve used in which I haven’t lost a bottle with. Unlike carbon fiber cages, the bottle retention is actually adjustable so it’ll hold even that odd-sized bottle from your last grand fondo. If $60 is too steep of a price tag, King also makes an identical, albeit heavier version out of stainless steel that works just as well for $18.

TUFMED TUFRELIEF

TUFMED TUFRELIEF rub. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Ahh, muscle and joint sores. With a raging one-year-old at home and touting all the cameras for work (and my bike), my dominant shoulder hasn’t really been the same. I’ve tried plenty of over-the-counter rubs for relief in the past with decent results but TUFRELIEF is my current favorite. It’s non-toxic, non-greasy, made in the U.S. with no banned substances and odorless: I can now rub it all over myself and go to work (or any coffee shop) without smelling like I just got out of a medicinal hotbox.

Giordana EXO compression knicker

Giordana EXO compression knickers. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

You read that right, there’s a knicker for a summer gear product review. I was never much of a knicker type of guy to begin with, but Giordana’s EXO compression knicker was impressive to say the least. Unlike most knickers on the market, the EXO is actually designed for warm weather riding and extends further down the knee for better zone compression by integrating eight (!) different types of fabrics throughout. It’s perfect for those morning rides around San Francisco where it doesn’t get either super warm or super cold. Giordano’s variable thickness Cirro OF chamois is also worth mentioning because it fits just right and is oh so comfortable. Heck, the proprietary chamois even has memory foam and aloe vera infused right into it.

Giro Empire SLX

Giro Empire SLX. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

There’s been plenty of reviews in print and on the ‘net about this shoe because of the shoelaces so I’ll just go straight to the point: Don’t hate until you’ve tried it (I know there are still many of you out there). The Empire SLX is freakishly light and comfortable. The Easton EC90 SLX carbon sole is stiff but Giro still managed to keep it so thin that I never felt disconnected from the pedals as if I was riding with a pair of Jimmy Choo Portia 120s. And the shoelaces? I was skeptical about them initially but I am now a fan.

ITW Tac Link Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

ITW Tac Link: Not exactly a cycling specific product but all you carabiner-wearing people will rejoice at the fact that you can use this without feeling like you’ve just connected yourself to your keys by the ways of a boat anchor. Just don’t go climbing with this one.

Kuwahara Hirame pump head

My Kuwahara Hirame pump head has gotten a bit of rust and scratches from constant use the past few years but I am sure it will outlast just about every single toy in my garage. Plus what's not to love for a bit vintaged look (and feel?) Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Similar to the KCNC pump head Jim reviewed earlier this year but this has been one of those tools I am super happy with. My teammates were a bit confused with this whole solid piece of brass at a team camp a few years back, but honestly I haven’t had one of those pump heads flying off the valve incidents since I got this, and it’ll even clamp on the slipperiest tubular valves with authority like no other

Knog Binder MOB Kid Grid

Knog Binder MOB Kid Grid in it's element. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Let’s just say this little guy’s totally lit. Silicone mounting brackets are simple to use and won’t mar, or slip off your fancy carbon seatpost. Five modes from its grid of 16 (!) LEDs to choose from, low battery indicator and even an integrated USB charging plug. Oh, and it’s waterproof. With all those features, you’d think it would be as big as a phablet but no, this is one well designed and executed taillight.

Jagwire Elite Link shift/brake kit

Jagwire Jagwire Elite Link brake kit. Stephen Lam/element.ly

Okay, it’ll take more time to setup than traditional cable kits but the tradeoff is well worth the extra time and money spent. Concept wise it’s similar to Nokon, Alligator, and Power Cordz Swift by connection small aluminum links over a slick Teflon liner to create a lightweight and compressionless system that’ll play nicely with tight bends. I’ve been running both the brake and shift kit on a Dura Ace 9000 group for about a year and am happy to say it’s so durable, accurate, smooth and crisp that I don’t ever want to go back to regular cables. Pro tip: The housing squeals every once in a while but a small dab of Tri-Flow between the problematic links will take care of it.


Five Pieces of Kit You Should be Rocking Right Now

Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly
It is time to pull some new kit on.Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly

Bike kit just gets nicer and nicer. We’ve never ridden in such comfort, and style. The big brands are doing good work, but a lot of the new development is also thanks to the smaller brands—companies that might only produce a handful of items.

What follow are five pieces of kit we’ve been riding, and loving, day in and day out, be it on our weekend riders or our commute to work:

Read on for our reviews.


Giro Empire VR90 shoes. Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly
Giro Empire VR90 shoes. Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly

Giro Empire VR90

I finally got shoe game back on track in a sweet, styling way. If you told me a couple of years ago, I would be lusting after a pair of lace up bicycle shoes, and in a particular a pair of lace up mountain bike shoes, I would have called you crazy. And even after seeing Taylor Phinney hammering his bike in a pair of metallic silver shoes with bright green laces, I still couldn’t quite get my excitement on. It wasn’t until I almost had my hands, nay feet, on a pair of the limited edition camo Giro Empires when the hook was sunk.

And now I finally got my hands on a pair of the new VR90s I am officially smitten with laces. There have been plenty of reviews and online chatter about the benefits of the lace system. If they are to be believed you can get a overall better fit without hotspots, over a buckle system. I have never suffered from hotspots, so I can’t speak to this claim. But like almost all the Giro shoes I have worn over the last few years they make some of the most comfortable riding shoes, right out of box, being sold today. Sure, lacing up takes a little more time and adjusting on the fly is nearly impossible, but damn if I don’t look pimp and feel surprisingly cozy.

—Jim Merithew


Cadence Collection Tempo Light Kit. Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly
Cadence Collection Tempo Light Kit. Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly

Cadence Collection Tempo Light Kit

I want one of everything Cadence Collection makes. I can’t say that about very many companies, but it is completely true about Cadence. I’m not sure how they do it, but they make some of the most distinctive, stylish and comfortable kit being put out by any of the small players. They seem to be able to straddle the line between distinctive and poppin’ without ever rolling over into the garish or distasteful.

I’ve been on a couple of big fondos in the last couple of months and I almost always find myself wanting to yell CADENCE when I spot someone in their kit. Which must mean they are doing something right. We’re digging the Tempo Light in particular.

—Jim Merithew


7mesh Revelation Jacket. Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly
7mesh Revelation Jacket. Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly

7mesh Revelation Jacket

This has been the rainiest spring I can remember here in New Mexico. Every afternoon it clouds up, the winds start whipping and then it dumps. The weather is great for the local aquifer since we’re in a drought, but it’s a pain in the ass to ride home through. My saving grace has been the 7mesh Revelation Jacket.

The thing is made from Gore-Tex Pro, which you don’t see for bike jackets, and it’s like wearing a force field. I stay bone dry, plus it cuts the wind and cold. The design is also spot on, with a perfect cut for the bike, and side vents that let me reach in and access my jersey pockets. The cost is WAY up there—nearly five bills—but think of it like an investment. You should have this jacket for decades to come.

—Jakob Schiller


Kitsbow Haskell Short. Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly
Kitsbow Haskell Short. Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly

Kitsbow Haskell Short

People like to talk about one-quiver bikes, and one-quiver skis—well, the Haskell is the one-quiver short. They’re great for riding your mountain or commuter bike with a slim cut but a huge range of motion.

They’re also great for picnics, playgrounds with the kids, soccer, watching television, drinking beer or anything else you can think of. I literally live in these shorts when the weather’s warm. All that movement comes from a nylon/spandex mix that’s wicked stretchy but also plenty tough. If you take a spill in the hills the shorts will be fine. And if you get caught in the rain a DWR finish means you won’t look like a wet dog.

—Jakob Schiller


Topo Designs Work Shirt. Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly
Topo Designs Work Shirt. Photo: Jim Merithew/Element.ly

Topo Designs Work Shirt

This shirt is not a piece of bike kit. But whatevs. It’s cool, and I use it on my bike anyway. Just last week I had it on while I road through the foggy streets of San Francisco and it kept me warm but breathed just enough so I didn’t sweat out when I had to climb a couple hills. Made by the smart folks over at Topo, it stands out just enough from the normal flannel and is plenty nice to wear into work, or the bar, or to your inlaw’s house for dinner.

—Jakob Schiller