Turns out my favourite moments of 2015 are really easy to outline and summarize, but when it came down to putting together my favourite gear of this past season, I couldn’t easily (or quickly) nail my selects down to just a few. I really believe the best gear is the kind you don’t have to think about - from brakes that don’t require much attention (preferably none) to bra closures that STAY closed (or don’t exist!), I’ve put down few of my favourite pieces of gear from this past season to hopefully help some folks make selections of their own down the road:
1. SRAM Guide Ultimate Brakes
The team had these installed on our bikes the night before we raced the first round of the Enduro World Series in Rotorua, New Zealand. I liked the Guide RSCs from the previous season a lot, but I have yet to have a pair of Guide Ultimates that have let me down (and I’ve got ‘em on a few bikes - some have carried over from bike to bike as I recover from surgery). They’re super powerful, I like the feel of the pull of the caliper to the rotor and I love the way the carbon lever feels as a control.
SRAM says “With its completely new, 4-piston S4 caliper, SwingLink™ lever cam, and carbon lever blade, the 360-gram Guide Ultimate stands alone as the new leader in its class.” And I concur (well, I just think they’re sick). Find them at your local dealer or spec’d on your sweet new rig.
2. Giro Montara MIPS Helmet
I went to Ethiopia for the asset trip of this new helmet from Giro, but wasn’t allowed to wear it again for about 6 months until it launched. I was bummed. It is the first helmet I’ve ever owned that fits me perfectly. The pads are super absorbent for hot, sweaty days and the visor articulates a bunch to afford space for folks who want to run goggles. Colorways are sweet too. The Giro design team considered just about everything when they designed this helmet and it is definitely one for the arsenal. Find it at your local dealer or here. Other Giro mentions that I now have but didn’t run in 2015: this kickass bib short and these ‘California-style’ (my term, not theirs) shorts. Yes and yes.
3. XX1 Quarq Power Meter
Ok so this is really nerdy, but I LOVE running a power meter on my bike. I got my Quarq meter back in June of last season and it instantly changed my outlook on training. I do a lot of interval training all year round, so getting a power meter installed on the bike I ride every day was an awesome way to get me out of the gym and riding for real. I have a hard time sitting on a trainer when it’s beautiful outside (or at all); running the Quarq meter on my Roubion was a sweet way gain intel on the kind of outputs I had leading up to events and holes I needed to identify in my fitness for future training plans. Expensive? Yes. Useful? Totally. And also pretty easy to set up with my Garmin devices. Find it here.
4. Lululemon Swiftly Tech Tees
I LIVED in so many of these this season, and you’ve probably seen members of the team running these too. I can’t recall a time these ever stunk or stained (which is really surprising, given what we put our clothes through on a long day on the bike). Lulu even did a limited edition ¾ sleeve jersey for a bunch of us at Crankworx Whistler and we all wear ours on the regular. I highly recommend the short sleeve crew for hot days or as a layering piece - I wore mine EVERY day for shooting the Dirt Diaries for Crankworx and it survived. True story. Find it here.
5. Arc’teryx Norvan Jacket
No, this isn’t a work plug. Arc’teryx doesn’t sponsor our team and I paid for this jacket. It is, however, the best GORE-TEX piece I’ve ever had for biking. It’s made with C-KNIT technology, which doesn’t feel rubbery against your skin if you’re just running a jersey and it packs pretty small in your bag as an emergency piece. My one complaint is that because it’s designed as a running jacket, the hood is silly small (for folks not wearing a helmet), but it does fit under your helmet if you’re keen to rock that look. It’s expensive but guaranteed for life and it’s the most breathable, waterproof jacket I’ve ever owned.
6. Lululemon All Sport Bra
I have four or 5 of these in a constant rotation and I don’t think I’ll ever turn back. This is simply designed, it does its job and it can NEVER come undone because it doesn’t have closures (that sit against a backpack on long, sweaty days). My shoulders are a little on the...immobile...side, so getting this thing on and off can be an absolute performance, but it’s worth it. And they often come in so many great colours! Find it here.
7. Juliana Furtado 2
Maybe this isn’t exactly the most fair mention because I did not, in fact, ride a true Furtado in 2015. I did, however, get to spend a bunch of time on one of Santa Cruz’ test rigs for the Furtado while riding down in California last summer and I totally fell in love with the bike. You could call the Furtado the little sister of the Roubion, but I really think this bike stands on its own as a light, playful and stiff pedalling machine. For sure I still choose the longer travel Roubion for racing and the big descents found around Whistler, but I’m really looking forward to putting the Furtado through its paces on big days just about anywhere in the world. It’s also now available in extra small for those vertically challenged ladies! Here’s where it lives on our site.
8. Smith Optics Squad MTB Goggle
These launched at Crankworx this summer and Smith’s enduro athletes were the first to put them on display (and try them out!). We were all a little hesitant to try something outside of what we’ve been running for years, but the Squad Goggle killed it. Its mountain bike specific design calls for less foam around the eyes, which kept my lenses from fogging during the long stages of the Enduro. They even stood up in the disgusting weather Laurence CE and I faced while shooting in the Bike Park later in the season. Find them here.
9. EVOC Travel Bag
I don’t think there is a better bike-travel-bag than the one made by EVOC. I got my new one back in Feb of last year and it has yet to really show the abuse it has been put through after months upon months of worldwide travel. My bike always comes out the other side as I left it (barring a few rearrangements courtesy of trusty airport security inspectors) and it rolls around, often in an epic hurry, like a boss. I suggest getting the newly designed bag if you can - that 3rd wheel would be RAD for someone with gimpy arms like mine. Find it here.
10. Enduro Bites Beta Red
Kelli got me onto this stuff and it’s become a bit of a (healthy) crutch for me now. I drink a bottle of Beta Red about 60mins before I do rides longer than 2 hours to help stave off cramping/bonking in the heat. One of the surprising side effects of this stuff is it makes my forearms and head tingle like crazy when it kicks in. Something about the Beta Alanine in it, I guess. But it’s my go-to supplement that is totally natural (and a little weird tasting, but it does grow on you). One scoop goes a long way. Find it here.
Think I missed something this year? Got some advice on gear you think is better than mine? Share your advice with us on Juliana’s Facebook Page. I don’t know everything, that’s for sure, and I love hearing about cool sh*t to try on my own!