The year is almost over and it’s time we look back and consider all the bikes, components and gear we’ve tested in 2014. It’s always tough to choose favorites, but choose we did, highlighting our favorite products of the year in the new issue of the magazine. We asked each editor to choose their favorite piece of cycling gear they used in 2014, and these are their choices.
Over the next few days we’ll be rolling out our favorite Bikes, Components and Gear, as well as looking ahead to 2015 at some of the items at the top of our must-try list, so keep checking back to see the rest of the 2014 Dirt Rag Editors’ Choice awards.
LAKE MX237 shoes
Chosen by Editor Mike Cushionbury
These shoes have arguably the most supple and comfy full-grain leather upper I’ve ever used. The shoes broke in nicely, like a favorite pair of soft slippers, but over time they’ve proven to be durable and scuff resistant. The full-carbon sole has real rubber lugs and a traction strip in all the key places, and the dual side-mounted BOA lacing system snugs up nicely with no odd pressure points. The fit is roomy, but my feet never swim around, making these my go-to choice for any length of mountain bike (or gravel) ride or race. Stiffness and power transfer is also stout enough for cyclocross.
Specialized SWAT bib shorts
Chosen by Tech Editor Eric McKeegan
Many people might find the concept of pockets on your liner short silly, but those people would be wrong. For riders who are looking to ditch that hydration pack but still want to be prepared, these shorts are just the ticket. And at $88, even if the pockets aren’t your cup of tea, these are still supremely comfortable bibs.
Dakine pick-up pad
Chosen by Art Director Matt Kaspryzk
I pretty much got a truck because I always wanted one of these, and it’s lived up to the hype. Its padded protection allows you to simply hang bikes on your tailgate for transporting. It comes in two sizes for mid- and full-size trucks as well as two color options (black and camo). There are straps to anchor your down-tube on the pad, and that’s all you need to keep your bike from flopping around. The access flap keeps your tailgate handle and back-up camera functional. It’s an inexpensive, quick, and convenient alternative to mounted racks, but does require a cable lock if you want security. And you also need a truck.
Camelbak Kudu 12
Chosen by Online Editor Adam Newman
CamelBak took the holeshot in the hydration-pack market, but in the last few years they’ve seemed to be coasting. This latest pack puts it back in high gear, however, combining a simple layout, a great bladder, and just the right amount of storage. I wouldn’t want to land on my shock pump or whatever else is in my bag any more than on a rock, so the CE2 spine protector is an added bonus. From trail rides with friends to enduro racing, the Kudu 12 is my favorite pack of the year.
Scott Sports Stego MIPS helmet
Chosen by General Manager and photographer Justin Steiner
Researching helmet safety and the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) data for my review of Scott’s Stego helmet convinced me that MIPS-equipped helmets might help reduce the risk of concussion. Since then, the Stego has been my helmet of choice because, in addition to providing a little extra peace of mind, it provides great coverage around the head, is very comfortable, and breathes well.
Mavic CrossMAX hydration pack
Chosen by Art Director Matt Kaspryzk
Mavic might not be your first thought when searching for a new hydration pack, but it’s worth serious consideration. Mavic has a full line of softgoods that are all top shelf. This season I’ve been really impressed with the CrossMAX Hydropack 15. It has plenty of compartmental storage for any all-mountain adventure. There’s a helmet strap and an easy-access pocket on the back. The 3-liter bladder is easy to use and gusseted to prevent sloshing fluid. In addition, there are four pockets on each front strap, making this a figurative tactical vest for off-road riding.
Read all our choices of the best new bikes, gear and components here.
The Editors’ Choice selections originally appeared in Issue #181. Pick up a copy here or better yet, order a subscription, and help support the independent mountain bike forum.