Oh hey, summer solstice will officially begin on June 20. That’s 11 days out.
There’s plenty of time to freshen up your stash of gear for the next adventure. Here are 8 pieces of gear we’ve been loving lately:
- Silca Pocket Impero Mini Pumps
- SciCon Race Rain Bag
- Wahoo Elemnt Bolt
- DynaPlug Air Tubeless Tire Repair Kit
- Victorinox BikeTool
- Rumpl Beer Blanket
- GripGrab Arm Warmers Light
- MODe Anti-Cramping Energy Shot
Read on for our reviews.
Pocket pumps are such a polarizing item because of their bad rep from all the shitty ones you can buy. Tires just don’t seem to inflate nearly fast enough, they’re slippery when wet, essentially rendered useless when the barrel gets inhumanly hot right about the time your arms are all warmed up trying to make a PR on how quick you can get to 90PSI. Oh, and shitty pump heads that either don’t seal or seal so well it pulls the valve off the tube. The Silca Pocket Impero, though, seems to solve all of that. Situated inside a CNC aluminum head, the 3mm Italian leather gasket slips onto a presta value with just the right amount of resistance. So smooth you’d swear it’s a match made in heaven. Not only that, its mirror-honed interior and generous use of precision metal parts (as opposed to plastic) will stand up against years of last minute roadside abuse.
Usually seen stacked in the back of a ProTour team car, the SciCon race rain bag is popular for a reason: To keep a rain kit neatly organized with its many labeled pockets (shoes+covers, warmers, gloves, jersey+shorts, jacket+vests) so there will be no frantic fumbling when trying to fish out some shoe covers in the back of a moving car flying down the French countryside. I don’t have a team car following me on every ride, but nevertheless I love my Race Rain bag whenever I am driving to a race or to a ride. The bag doesn’t take up much real estate in the trunk and as long as its packed properly in advance, it’s pretty much a no-brainer to use: unzip pocket labeled “jacket” and viola, jacket. Bye bye pre-race frantic fumbling in search of your glove. Each bag is also customizable (for free) to include your name and a country flag of your choice, just like what the pros get.
We’ve been smitten with our Wahoo Elemnt for a while now with its trove of smart features and ease of setup. The Atlanta-based company‘s newest offering, the Elemnt Bolt, seems to continue their tradition of forward-thinking design. It is much more than just a compact and less expensive version of the original Elemnt. Rather, it’s been race optimized much like a BMW M3 within the 3-series itself. The screen is about half an inch smaller (at 2.2″ instead of 2.7 “) and 39 grams lighter, but the bigger story here is that the Bolt is designed with aerodynamics in mind, down to its flush computer mount. Existing Elemnt users will instantly feel at home with its easy to use interface and it’s a perfect unit for those who prefer a smaller computer coupled with the additional benefits of marginal aerodynamic gains. Yea, it’s all about the details.
Tubeless tires rock but unfortunately they’re still susceptible to flats. And when they do, they suck. Worst, flatting in the middle of a race. Luckily, DynaPlug has a pretty ingenious solution just for that. Similar to the company’s repair solution for automative tires but with a twist, DynaPlug Air will first inflate the flat with CO2 through the plug applicator. Once inflation is complete, simply pull the insertion tool and the DynaPlug situated in the end of the tool will seal the puncture with a sticky strip of rubber… Just like the ones used to repair car tires. Pretty sweet to be able to use one tool to inflate and repair in one go.
While some might overlook the Victorinox BikeTool because of the lack of a cycling-specific function such as a chain tool, spoke wrench, or even a bottle opener, Victorinox essentially convinced me with its robust practicality. Unlike many mini-tools that don’t nearly generate enough torque to loosen a bolt roadside, I really like the BikeTool’s full-length 5mm allen wrench, plus the 8 additional bits connectable to the 5mm via a magnetic adapter. Heck, there are two beefy tire levers on each side of the tool too. It’s also worth noting that BikeTool is a manufactured by respected Swiss toolmaker PB Swiss in Switzerland. For $40, it’s as good as killing two birds with one stone.
I must admit I didn’t give them much initial thought since who reviews beer sleeves anyway. But these Rumpl Beer Blanket are not the faded red neoprene sleeves you find in your parents’ garage. True to its name, the blanket certainly feels and works like a sleeping bag. It’s good to know it’s fluid resistant so there’s no need to worry about toasting your friends after that gnarly gravel grinder. At $8, you can pretty much give them to every single member of your family and still be able to buy some of those hot IPA cans from Alvarado, Moonraker, and Monkish.
Summer doesn’t usually call for arm warmers, but summer living in San Francisco means living at the mercy of Karl the Fog. It gets chilly when you least expect. I used to swear by DeFeet ArmSkins (still have two pairs on rotation) but my new favorite are the Arm Warmers Light from Denmark’s GripGrab. Founded by three brothers in 2000, the Arm Warmers Light are silky smooth to the touch with the right amout of insulation and elasticity. Once in place, grippers on both ends of the warmers serves as anchors while the highly elastic fabric moves along its now defined area like second skin, even with those chicken arms of mine.
Cramps suck. I am one of those unlucky ones that literally make it rain the second the weather gets warm so I am constantly looking for ways to prevent cramps from happening. MODe’s Anti-Cramping energy shot is different in such that it’s not a pill, nor is it some gel. It’s an easily digested juice shot with a kick that one of our testers described, “It’s like I just ate some fresh spicy Mexican mangoes”. Think of this energy shot as the happy medium between going to a cold-pressed juice bar and getting more supplements from GNC – except MODe is all natural with no added sugars and preservatives. As for that spicy kick? It’s from a combination of ginger, turmeric, and black pepper extracts that is said to help to combat cramps and to prevent sugar spikes that plague the more commonly used gels.