Given how much gear we test at BikeRadar, it’s a proud endorsement of any product if it is used by our team of testers on a regular basis. Here's a look at six items BikeRadar videographer Joe Norledge reaches for when he jumps on his bike.
Continental Gatorskin tyres
When people ask me to recommend a winter/training tyre, Continental’s Gatorskin is always the first that comes to mind. I’ve been using them for seven years and have easily done over 30,000 miles on every road surface imaginable.
They can be fairly pricey, but they’re tough and still role relatively well, I honestly can’t remember the last time I punctured using Gatorskins. A fit and forget product that stands the test of time, there’s not much else to say about them.
- £38.95 / $48 / €43
Poc Octal helmet
I’ve had three Poc Octal helmets and have used them almost exclusively since 2014. Two have gone to helmet heaven, having saved my noggin in some particularly nasty crashes, and my original from 2014 is still going strong.
While the Octal’s look may be polarizing, I’ve found the deeper fit perfect for my head, and the ample ventilation is brilliant during hot Euro marathon races. They’re not cheap, but I consider anything that protects my head to be a good investment, so it’s absolutely a price worth paying.
- Various prices
Schwalbe Racing Ralph Snake Skin tyres
Just like road tyres, every mountain biker has a particular favourite, for me it’s Schwalbe’s Racing Ralph Snake Skins. I’ve been using them in various sizes and compounds since 2012, and have raced all over Europe in many different conditions. Throughout those thousands of hours riding I think I’ve punctured three times.
For XC tyres the shoulder tread is relatively aggressive, so it always surprises me how well these tyres handle greasy conditions, and in the dry they feel super fast. They’re also now available in trendy wider sizes, so I don’t see myself changing to different race rubber anytime soon.
Mack Workshop The Sack backpack
Commuting everyday means I need a tough bag that can carry all my junk, including a laptop and any bike spares. Some people like a bag with plenty of compartments, but I prefer something simpler. The Sack by Mack Workshop is just that bag.
There’s a huge main compartment, containing a laptop sleeve, which is lined with a white fabric. This makes finding anything on dark mornings/evenings a breeze. All my spares go in the front compartment and a tube in the small side pocket.
I’ve had it for year and it’s seen some serious abuse, including plenty of races/trips away and obviously all my commutes. While all that road grime has taken the sheen off the orange finish, the bag remains in great condition. It’s a brilliant product and one I see myself using for many years to come.
Stages power meters
Having used a power meter since 2010, I’m well aware how expensive they can be. However Stages changed the game when it released its single-sided version, and since then power meters have started to become more affordable.
I’ve had three different versions; a first generation on my road bike, and two second generations on my mountain bikes (one gxp and one Cannondale model). Once again, no matter what I’ve thrown at them, they’re still going strong and sit within their calibration range.
Being single-sided I don’t think they’re quite as accurate as crank and hub based systems — I always seem to get slightly more favourable numbers with my Stages PMs, but those numbers are consistent and accurate enough for my needs.
If I had more cash I’d probably go for a crank based system, but for the money, Stages is hard to beat.
SRAM 1x MTB groupsets were another game changer when they were released around 2012, and while I’ve used them almost exclusively since then, I still felt like an 11-44 tooth cassette lacked some range for certain marathon and XC races, particularly for long climbs.
Luckily for you and me SRAM released its Eagle 12-speed groupset in 2016, which increases the climbing range with a massive 50-tooth sprocket. This means you get all the benefits of 1x and a bail out gear for when things get really tough. Having raced all year on SRAM Eagle, I can safely say it was much appreciated.
Obviously it’s prohibitively expensive, but the trickle down effect has already started with a more affordable GX 12-speed being released.
Shimano users aren’t going to like this, but I honestly can’t see why you’d use a Shimano groupset for marathon or XC racing, but please let me know why I’m wrong in the comments ; )